By Dan Wright
CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – In Friday night’s 40-6 win against Tates Creek at Rice Mountjoy Stadium, the Dixie Heights Colonels built a 40-point lead before giving up a late touchdown for the second straight week.
For the fourth straight week, the Colonels limited their opponent to just one touchdown.
It all has second-year head coach Dave Brossart digging into the Dixie Height archives.
“I was going back. Coach (Tom) Spritzky had some really nice teams in ’03, ’04 and ‘05. They beat Trinity,” said Brossart, whose Colonels have now won five straight for the first time since that 2004 win against the Shamrocks. “I was going back to see when the last shutout was and I think it’s been seven or eight years. We almost had one tonight.”
Before Graham Gordon hit running back Jaren Shelby for a 10-yard touchdown with 3:37 remaining on a running clock to prevent Dixie Heights from its first shutout since a 44-0 win against Scott in 2009, the closest the Commodores had gotten to the end zone was the opening drive of the game.
Backup quarterback Jake Ryan completed six of his first seven passes to advance Tates Creek to the Colonels' 5 yard line, but 255-pound junior nose tackle Brandon Johnson sacked Ryan on fourth-and-3, one of two sacks by Johnson in the game.
“That was crucial. It was a momentum swing,” said senior linebacker Brendan Fisk, who had a third-quarter interception himself. “It just changed the whole game, really.”
Dixie Heights responded in seven plays, getting a 30-yard run from senior Darion Washington to set up Washington’s 14-yard scoring run later on the drive.
With the momentum in their favor, the Colonels seized control of the game when the Commodores failed to field Ethan Schulte’s kickoff that followed, allowing sophomore Brandon Brown to gain possession for Dixie Heights at Tates Creek’s 11-yard line.
“We just had a sky right and we hoped to get it between the second and third level,” said Brossart, adding they wanted to keep the ball out of the hands of Division I prospect R. J. Taylor. “It took a great bounce and they misplayed it and we jumped on it. We had a short field and we went up 14-0 afterwards.”
It took the Colonels just two plays to double their lead, with junior Ben Owens scoring from eight yards out to give Dixie Heights its second touchdown in a span of 43 seconds.
“That was actually a big play, because coach told us if we were to get the ball, pound it,” said Washington. “Get the ball and keep pounding it out and we could make this team quit, make them tap out.”
The Colonels proceeded to pound the Commodores on both sides of the ball, outgaining Tates Creek 400 yards to 224, including a 272-to-16 advantage in rushing yards.
Washington led the way with 11 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Seth Caple had eight carries for 81 yards and five catches for 58 yards, scoring on a 4-yard run in the second quarter to give the Colonels four touchdowns on their first four possessions and a 27-0 halftime advantage.
Owens added two rushing touchdowns while junior quarterback Drew Moore completed 12 of 15 passes for 130 yards.
“I just think we play a brand of football that a lot of teams don’t see, because we’re a north-south running team,” said Brossart. “Defensively I think we’re just aggressive up front. We play physical.”
On defense, the Colonels recorded six sacks, including the two by Johnson and 1 1/2 by junior linebacker Luke Zajac. DIxie Heights had three interceptions, two by junior defensive back Ethan Harrison that set up both of their second-half touchdowns, and recovered two fumbles, including Brown’s kick recovery in the first quarter.
“We just don’t give up the big play now,” Fisk said. “Last year we gave up 13 plays of over 50 yards for touchdowns and I don’t think we’ve given up one this year. We just run to the ball and don’t let anything big happen.”
That change has turned a defense that allowed 34.9 points per game last season into one that has not allowed more than 21 points in any game this year.
“I’m proud of our defense because really, the last two weeks we’ve shut them out,” Brossart said. “We shut Boone County and Tates Creek out both the first three and quarters, and if you keep a team at a goose egg that long you’re playing the type of defense that is probably going to win a football game.”
TATES CREEK 0-0-0-6—6
at D. HEIGHTS 14-13-6-7—40
DH-Washington 14 run (Schulte kick)
DH-Owens 8 run (Schulte kick)
DH-Washington 16 run (Schulte kick)
DH-Caple 4 run (kick failed)
DH-Owens 1 run (kick failed)
DH-Washington 19 run (Schulte kick)
TC-Shelby 10 pass from Gordon (run failed)
RECORDSs: Dixie Heights 5-1; Tates Creek 4-3.