By Dan Wright
FORT MITCHELL, Ky. – During the first 10 minutes of its game at Beechwood, Dixie Heights looked like a team that has gone 3-8 each of the past two seasons, falling being 13-0.
Over the final 38 minutes, however, the Colonels looked the team head coach Dave Brossart knows the can be, rushing for 420 yards and scoring 34 straight points en route to a 41-20 win Friday night at Edgar McNabb Stadium.
“I would like to erase the first 10 minutes, but afterwards we started playing,” said Brossart. “You could just see the difference between the first 10 minutes and the last 38 minutes of the game. We played with a different personality.”
“I think this is without a doubt the best football game they’ve played under me and they beat a really good football team,” Brossart, in his second season coaching the Colonels, later added.
A fumble following an interception and a pass interference penalty on third down enabled Beechwood to control the ball for the first 7:02 of the game before sophomore quarterback Kyle Fieger hit senior receiver Jalen Hayden with a 25-yard touchdown pass.
A three-and-out by Dixie Heights and a 41-yard punt return by junior Joe Studer set up the Tigers for an 8-yard touchdown run by Fieger to go ahead, 13-0, with 2:38 left in the first quarter.
From that point forward, however, the Colonels dominated behind the senior rushing tandem of speedy Darion Washington and bruising Seth Caple.
“It’s deadly when you use it right,” said Caple of the combination. “I’ll pound it in there and then you give it to Washington and he’ll bounce around and take it 55 yards for a touchdown.”
Washington led the Colonels with 161 rushing yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, also scoring on a 17-yard screen play. Caple finished with nine carries for 90 yards and two scores, also recording his first career varsity interception in the fourth quarter.
“Washington is a slasher and Seth Caple is a hard-nosed runner,” said Brossart. “I’ll tell you what, Seth Caple might have been the MVP tonight because he blocked his butt off. He’s just got that old school mentality. He’s a physically bruising back.”
It was Caple who got the comeback started with a 41-yard run on Dixie Heights first play after falling behind 13-0. Two plays later he forced his way into the end zone from eight yards out to pull the Colonels to within six, 13-7.
On Dixie’s next possession, Washington broke a 33-yard run before scoring on a 17-yard screen pass from Drew Moore, although a missed extra point left the score tied at 13.
Caple added a second eight-yard touchdown with 1:17 left in the second quarter to put Dixie ahead 19-13 by halftime, and the Colonels put the game away by taking 22 of the 27 offensive snaps in the third quarter.
Moore scrambled for 14 yards on third-and-12 to keep the opening drive of the third quarter alive for the Colonels, and then capped the 13-play, 67-yard drive that took up 6:05 by finding senior Evan Hicks for an 11-yard touchdown. The duo also connected for a 2-point conversion that made the score 27-13 in favor of the Colonels.
After a three-and-out by Beechwood, Moore finished off a nine play drive that included eight runs by scoring from six yards out to increase Dixie Heights’ lead to 34-13 with 35.5 seconds left in the quarter.
Beechwood ended the Colonels scoring run when Fieger connected with Studer for a three-yard touchdown pass with 6:30 remaining in the game, but, after a failed onside kick, Washington answered with a 41-yard touchdown run to restore the Colonels 21-point lead, 41-20.
While Washington, Caple, and a host of other running backs helped the Colonels pile up 478 yards of offense, Beechwood was limited to 246 yards, including just 63 rushing yards on 22 carries.
“They won the battle up front,” said Beechwood head coach Noel Rash. “On both sides of the ball they absolutely destroyed us up front.”
Fieger completed 17 of 29 passes for 183 yards with three interceptions and two touchdowns for the Tigers, with Hayden hauling in nine passes for 101 yards and a score. Moore was 4-of-11 for 58 yards with two touchdowns for Dixie Heights, also rushing 10 for 53 yards and a score.
The game ended with the Colonels taking a knee at the Beechwood 3-yard line one week after Dixie Heights had failed to score on first-and-goal from the five in the final minutes of their season-opening loss to Covington Catholic.
“Sometimes when you’re not used to winning you kind of blow it and we feel like we kind of blew it last week,” said Brossart. “We had to take the loss like men and watch the film and learn from our mistakes and today we found out how to win one. I think if we can play with a team like CovCath and beat a team like Beechwood like we did, we should be able to compete in every game we play this year.”
DIXIE HEIGHTS 7-12-15-7—41
at BEECHWOOD 13-0-0-7—20
B-Hayden 25 pass from Fieger (M. Sletto kick)
B-Fieger 8 run (kick blocked)
DH-Caple 8 run (Schulte kick)
DH-Washington 17 pass from Moore (kick failed)
8 run (run failed)
DH-Hicks 11 pass from Moore (Hicks pass from Moore)
DH-Moore 6 run (Schulte kick)
B-Studer 3 pass from Fieger (M. Sletto kick)
DH-Washington 41 run (Schulte kick)
RECORDS: Dixie Heights 1-1, Beechwood 1-1.