By Dave Malaska
UNION, Ky. – Dixie Heights rushed the ball for 354 yards, grinding out a 27-7 win over Cooper Friday night and building momentum for the playoffs.
"It's been 2010 since this team has won a playoff game," coach David Brossart told his team after the final gun. "For some of the seniors, this is what their whole high school career has been about, getting another playoff win. Next week, I fully believe we will do it because of the character, talent and hard work you've put forth."
The Colonels (7-3) scored on four of their first five possessions in the first half while holding Cooper to just 42 yards of offense to build a 27-0 lead by intermission. The Jaguars (3-7) finished the game with just 113 yards of total offense.
The Colonels' rushing attack was led by senior Darion Washington, who ran for 136 yards and one score, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season early in the third quarter. Coming into the game, he needed 102 yards to pass the milestone.
"One of the managers was doing a countdown for me, but I wasn't paying any attention to him. I ," said the senior. "I was focused on the game, just doing what I had do."
Senior Seth Capel rushed eight times for 30 yards and two more touchdowns, junior Ben Owens went for 88 yards on eight carries and junior quarterback Drew Moore ran for 83 yards on seven carries, including a 56-yard run for Dixie's second touchdown.
Moore also completed seven of 11 passing attempts for 96 yards to add to the Colonels' 450-yard night offensively.
Though Dixie has depended on a running back-by-committee approach to the season, Brossart said Washington has been a big part of the Colonels' success.
"He's such a great story. He was ineligible his sophomore year, then really had to fight to get his grades up. Two years later, here is is. He's on grade level, passing all of his classes and rushing for 1,000 yards," Brossart said.
"He's a special kid. Not only is he quick and elusive, but he runs really hard and physically punishes you on every play. He's earned every one of those 1,000 yards," the coach added.
Washington had the first big play for Dixie on Friday night, a 20-yard run to start its second possession. After Moore added a 15-yard run, Dixie needed just three more plays to go up, 7-0, on a 5-yard Caple bulldoze into the end zone.
Washington started the Colonels' next drive by scooping up and errant snap, turning a sure loss into a 5-yard gain. He combined with Caple for nine yards on two carries to put Dixie at their own 44 with a first down. That's when Moore struck, going around the left side and down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown run to put the Colonels up, 14-0.
On Dixie's possession, they marched 77 yards in nine plays capped by a Caple 2-yard dive into the end zone, then went on a 6-minute, 82-yard drive on their next possession to score again.
This time, Washington carried the ball in from five yards out to make it 27-0 just before the half.
Cooper avoided the shut out early in the fourth when Will Ludwig found Cory Fussinger in the end zone with an 8-yard pass. That was all the Jags, coming off a 49-7 win last week against Grant County, could muster. Ludwig finished with 88 yards passing on 11 of 23 attempts. He was sacked five times.
Aaron Morgan led the Cooper receivers with four catches for 45 yards. Sophomore Torey Cordell was their leading rusher with just 23 yards.
The Jaguars open postseason play next week at Anderson County (8-2).
Meanwhile, the Colonels will be on the road next Friday at Seneca (2-8) with momentum and a chip on their shoulder, looking for their first playoff win in three years. Kickoff it at 7:30 p.m.
"It's a good feeling. People talk us down, like we're not going to do anything," said Washington. "We've just kept our heads down, stayed quiet and have kept proving our point that we're not the team we have been the past two years. We're ready to get that playoff win."
DIXIE HEIGHTS 14-13-0-0—27
at COOPER 0-0-0-7—7
DH—Caple 5 run (Schulte kick)
DH—Moore 56 run (Schulte kick)
DH—Caple 2 run (Schulte kick)
DH—Washington 5 run (kick blocked)
C—Fussinger 8 pass from Ludwig (Turner kick)
RECORDS: Dixie Heights 7-3, Cooper 3-7.