Dixie hung tough with the Shawnee Arrows for about 2 and half quarters on Friday night. Both teams run a spread offense and the slick conditions in the drizzling rain made it tough for either team to get their offenses in gear during the early going. And at half time it was almost a stalemate with Shawnee holding a narrow 6-0 lead. But a young Dixie team with a lot of players going both ways on offense and defense gradually wore down, allowing Shawnee to overwhelm the Greyhounds in the second half.
Dixie actually had good field position in the first half. Their defense was stingy and their special teams were more effective on punts – as both teams had many 3 and outs in the early going. Shawnee started most of their first half drives in their own territory, while Dixie had a short field. Dixie gained the Shawnee 30 yard line twice in the first half and thanks to a Devin Worley to Justin Leonard pass – they were in scoring position at the 8 yard line of Shawnee. But in all three cases, Shawnee’s defense held firm and denied Dixie the end zone.
Shawnee finally made the decision to keep things simple in the poor conditions. They began running the ball in between the tackles. Mixing in an occasional pass to keep the Dixie defense honest. And their offense is a no huddle offense, meaning that Dixie’s defense was not getting much of a breather in between plays. Dixie’s offense was not moving the ball well, so the defensive players didn’t have much recovery time on the sidelines before they were back to the grind. This paid dividends when at the 7:26 mark of the second quarter they scored to capture the lead. And this would continue to be their strategy in the second half.
Surprisingly there were no turnovers in the first half. Sometimes weather can be an equalizer – the underdog team gets a fumble or mishandled pass and momentum can change. But fate was not kind to the Greyhounds. After holding Shawnee and forcing a punt – it was muffed deep in Dixie territory. A few plays later, Shawnee scored and the air seemed to go out of Dixie’s sails. Two scores down and under dismal conditions. When it rains, it pours – with the running game almost non-existent, Dixie was forced to take to the air. Luke Lovely had two interceptions including a pick six. The turnovers gave Shawnee great field advantage. What had been a close game turned into a rout as Shawnee rolled in the second half for a 38-0 victory.
Coach Watson commented after the game, “We played well with them in the first half. And I told them at halftime that in a close game like this that the team that makes a mistake can lose this game. Unfortunately we were the ones that made a mistake and Shawnee took advantage. We are a young team – starting a lot of freshmen and sophomores. So when we got down, the wheels seemed to fall off and we couldn’t get our momentum back. Their hurry up offense was a factor to a degree. We wore down in the second half.”