POPLAR GROVE – A pass-happy North Boone offense gave Dixon fits all night, but it was the Dukes’ defense that rose up when it mattered most.
Junior defensive end Hunter Pate had the signature play for an insurance touchdown, and the Dixon D was able to come up with one last stop to preserve a 26-18 victory against North Boone on Friday night.
With the Dukes clinging to a 20-18 lead, the Vikings reached the Dixon 20 with less than 2 minutes to play. On second-and-2 from the 20, Pate intercepted a pitch from Vikings’ quarterback Logan Emanuel and took it 80 yards to the house.
It was the capper of a huge night for Pate, who also had three sacks.
“I was supposed to get the quarterback, but the last 2 days I’ve been daydreaming about that, them pitching the ball and me getting it,” Pate said. “Then it happened.”
North Boone was far from done, however. The Vikings embarked on an 18-play drive that got as close as the Dixon 6. The Dukes, however, were able to force four consecutive incompletions, the last with 3.1 seconds on the clock, to eke out the win.
Dixon was quiet offensively in the first half, though an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Shafer to Nate Long with :30.4 on the clock gave the Dukes a 6-3 lead at halftime.
Dixon was able to come up with a pair of huge pass plays in the second half. The first was a 10-yard completion to Long that he turned into a 72-yard scoring play after breaking three tackles.
The second score came with Dixon trailing 18-12. Cal Kyker got loose down the right sideline and hauled in a 62-yard pass from Shafer for the tying touchdown.
“Coach said the second play, ‘We’re going to go to you, Cal,’” Kyker said. “I was like, ‘OK, Coach.’ I got the ball thrown my way and I was going to do everything I could to score a touchdown there. It felt great.”
“Cal did a good job of beating his guy,” Shafer said, “and I just put it where it needed to be.”
Shafer threw for 238 yards in the game. His favorite target was Long, who hauled in seven passes for 120 yards.
Emanuel threw for 351 yards for North Boone, including a 17-yard TD pass to Will Doetch with 5:21 left in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings their last lead.
Emanuel’s top target was Cooper Baden, who caught 12 passes for 140 yards. He also had a 31-yard TD run.
Dixon 26, North Boone 18
Star of the game: Hunter Pate, Dixon, 3 sacks, 80-yard interception return
He said it: “We just had to keep churning and working at it, and sooner or later it was going to happen.” Dixon QB Jacob Shafer
Up next: Mendota at Dixon, 7 p.m. Friday