Saturday night was one for the record books for the Dixie State University football program.
The Trailblazers defeated No. 23 Colorado Mesa University 38-31. The win marks the first time in school history that DSU has defeated a team ranked in the top 25. Moreover, the Trailblazers have won three games in a row, the longest winning streak since the program’s maiden season in Division II in 2006.
DSU controlled the ground game gaining a total of 332 yards. Redshirt freshman running back Clifford Simms shouldered the bulk of the offensive workload rushing for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
“The offensive line was able to make everything happen,” said Simms, a computer science major from Compton, California. “It feels great to beat [CMU] because now we know we can beat anyone.”
Senior running back DeJon Coleman joined in on the ground attack, eating up 111 yards and one touchdown.
“The run game was huge,” head coach Shay McClure said. “We had a great game plan going in and we stuck to our guns.”
The Trailblazers scored 35 unanswered points between the start of the second quarter and the end of the third quarter, giving them a 35-17 lead.
But things didn’t start out that way. DSU struggled early on. Its first three possessions resulted in an interception, a fumble, and a punt. CMU capitalized on the Trailblazers’ offensive woes, jumping out to a 0-17 lead.
DSU took its first lead of the game just seconds into the third quarter as junior wide receiver Justin Martin took the opening kickoff 93 yards into the Mavericks’ end zone.
The Trailblazers led the entire second half after the kickoff return, but that didn’t stop the game from coming down to the wire.
DSU scored a crucial field goal with ten minutes to go in the game, giving it a 14-point lead. The offense chewed up over seven minutes of the game clock in the process.
“I felt like we were the underdogs,” said redshirt junior defensive back Noe Perez, a business major from Santa Ana, California. “Ultimately, it comes down to who really wants it. Our coach put us in great positions. It just came down to making plays.”
The Trailblazers defense made several important plays down the stretch. It forced the Mavericks to gain yards on the ground, which kept the clock moving.
CMU was threatening to score from the DSU 16-yard line with four minutes to play. The Mavericks took a shot at the end zone, but the pass was intercepted by junior defensive back Tyneil Cooper.
DSU regained possession but were unable to gain a first down and punted the ball to CMU with 3:31 left in the game. The Mavericks scored a touchdown quickly, but not quickly enough as DSU’s offense was able to run out the clock after CMU used each of its timeouts on the previous possession.
“We’ll enjoy this victory,” McClure said. “Now we are on to the next opponent.”
Having won three games in a row, DSU now sits tied for second place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Two of its remaining four games are against teams that have a combined record of 2-11.
“We are not worried about who we have later in the season,” Perez said. “We are focused on who we have this week and want to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
The Trailblazers return to St. George to face Colorado School of Mines for homecoming Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. inside Legend Solar Stadium.