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Press releaseST. GEORGE -- Host Dixie State turned six Western Oregon turnovers into a 31-23 upset football win on a warm Homecoming Saturday at Hansen Stadium in front of 3,748 fans.
It was the Red Storm's first-ever win over WOU in six tries, and improved Dixie's record to 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Wolves dropped its first conference game of the year (2-1) and fell to 3-3 on the season.
Dixie State scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to erase a 17-9 deficit to rally for the win. Quarterback Judd Thompson (Crystal Lake. IL, Prarie Ridge HS, Utah State) connected on five-yard scoring strikes to Grant Jiminez (Orem. UT, Timpanogos) and Robert Evans (Washinton, UT, Pineview) to give the Red Storm a 24-17 lead at the end of the third quarter, and Tauni Vakapuna (North Salt Lake. UT, Hunter HS)nailed the lid on the coffin with a 74-yard scamper down the right sideline with less than ten minutes left to make it 31-17. The scamper was a season long rush from scrimmage and DSC first 100-yard rusher of the year.
Western Oregon didn't back down, moving the ball down the field to the Red Storm 10-yard line, but Ross Doman (Woodbum. OR, Canby) intercepted Josh Riddell's pass in the end zone--the fifth time that Riddell was picked off on the day. The Wolves would mount another drive in the waning moments and score on a Riddell to Sean Fullerton eight-yard slant with 1:04 left, but the ensuing onside kick was tipped out of bounds and Dixie then ran out the clock.
The game began on a much more positive note for the Wolves, after DJ Jackson returned the opening kick-off to Dixie's 45-yard line. WOU would score six plays later on John Breza's one-yard run.
But the rest of the half was a batch of turnovers for WOU, including four interceptions thrown by Riddell and a fumbled punt by the normally reliable Jon Dowd. Two of those miscues turned into Dixie scores.
Fullerton had a huge day to highlight the offense, with 13 catches for 163 yards. DJ Jackson had 70 yards rushing to pace the ground game, while Riddell finished 31 of 58 for 293 yards.
Vakapuna had 126 yards rushing for the Red Storm, while Thompson completed 21 of 36 passes for 170 yards and two scores.
Dixie State was led defensively by Keauntea Bankhead (Seattle, WA, Ballard, Arizona Western)9 tackles, but the play of the defensive back made the real difference in the game. Wesley Beavers (Las Vegas. NV, Cheyenne, Moorpark College)and Doman both collected two interceptions and linebacker Micah Harward added another.
Dixie State will play at home again next week, playing host to Azusa Pacific at Hansen Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 1:05 PM
NOTES: At halftime of the football game, LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland and former New England Patriot running back Corey Dillon were inducted in the Dixie State College Hall of Fame.
Mike Langston (Riverside, CA, Ramona, San Bernardino Valley) connected on his longest field goal of they year, a 40 yarder.
James Freed (Sandy, UT, Brighton)making his first start of the year in place of injured cornerback Richard May collected 8 tackles, second most for the Red Storm.
For the second home game in a row, the Red Storm offense battled back from a defecit to pick up a victory. The previous home victory was over Humboldt State two weeks ago.
(Courtesy of Dixie State)