(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- Coming into Tuesday's Class 3 Regional against St. Genevieve, the last time Dexter had won a playoff game was back in 1987, when current head coach Aaron Pixley was still in uniform for the Bearcats.
Now roaming the sideline instead of the field, Pixley watched his squad put up 473 yards of total offense in a 49-28 win that sends the Bearcats on to play Park Hills Central in sectionals Monday.
"You have to credit St. Genevieve's kids," Pixley said. "They didn't give up. They came out to win the football game the second half. At the same time our offense came out and answered everything they did.
"That's what championship football teams have to do."
After holding the Dragons to a single score through the first two quarters while their offense built a 28-7 lead, the Bearcats found themselves facing a St. Genevieve offense that had sprung to life to start the third quarter
Scoring 21 points in the second half, the Dragons were able to turn what looked like might become a blowout into a battle.
Able to stay within two scores of Dexter through most of the third and fourth quarters, the Dragons hopes weren't dashed until about three-and-a-half minutes were left in the fourth quarter.
That's when, down by 14 and left with 4th and 13, St. Genevieve quarterback Brendan Weiler's pass to Travis Grither fell incomplete, turning the ball over to the Bearcats who subsequently drove down the field 47 yards for one final score.
"Our line blocked good, we played good and the Lord gave us a chance to do what we could and we did it," Dexter quarterback Cody Stevens said.
With the defense having let up three scores already in the second half, Bearcats defense lineman Aaron Mace was glad to see his squad hold tight on both the above mentioned scoring drive and one final run where the Dragons were stopped short at the Bearcat 11 yard line as time expired trying to add some pride points.
"The defense we kind of struggled, but stuck in there and gutted it out," Mace said. "We let up a lot (in the second half). I think we thought we had it won, but then they started coming back.
"Then we had to stick back in there and hold them."
Before letting up early in the third quarter, it was the defenses strong play in that had helped Dexter build their 21-point lead going into the half.
After allowing the Dragons to score on their second possession of the game to tie things up after Dexter opened with a 37-yard scoring strike to Jake Cox from Stevens up the left side, the Bearcats defense came up big.
Fresh off his touchdown on offense, Cox turned around and picked off a Weiler pass at St. Genevieve's 25-yard line on defense before taking it back to the seven to set up a Josh Overall touchdown run on the Bearcats first play of the series.
"It was huge," Pixley said. "I kind of saw him break on it. I didn't know if he was going to get there, but he got there and cut in front of the receiver.
"He about ran it back. I was kind of wanting him to go down. He was cutting around out there too much and I was afraid he was going to fumble, but he did a great job."
Cox's interception started a 21-point run for the Bearcats going into the break.
Though Dexter's defense did let up in the second half, the Bearcats ended up not having much to worry about as their offense was able to answer each St. Genevieve score on the ensuing drive.
The first of those two scores were 45 and 18 yard passes to Cox and Tyler Miller respectively before Stevens ran one in himself at the goal line for the final score.
On the night, Stevens was his typical reliable self in running the offense, going 11-for-15 in the passing game for 270 yards and four touchdowns which help set up a running game that contributed 203 yards on the contest.
The win also avenges an season-opening loss to the St. Genevieve where the Bearcats fell 41-25 to the Dragons.
In their next opponent, Dexter is will also face a team they have already seen this season.
Taking on the Park Hills Central in the second week of the season, the Bearcats shutout the Rebels 14-0 for their first win of the year.
"They have quite a few players back I think that wasn't in the game against us the first time around," Pixley said. "There big, physical and their really running the ball downhill hard.
"So we have to come out and get prepared for a hard-nosed fight because that's the way they want to make it."
That game will take place at Park Hills, Monday at 7 p.m.
D -- Jake Cox 37 pass from Cody Stevens (Alex Cliff kick), 8:33
S -- Jacob Billings 23 run (Luke Palmer kick), 5:26
D -- Josh Overall 7 run (Cliff kick), 1:35
D -- Overall 2 run (Cliff kick) 4:50
D -- Chase Young 26 pass from Stevens (Cliff kick), 1:00
S -- Jacob Roe 21 pass from Brendan Weiler (Palmer kick), 5:56
D -- Cox 45 pass from Stevens (kick failed), 3:48
S -- Adam Schwent 10 pass from Weiler (kick blocked), 0:59
D -- Tyler Miller 18 pass from Stevens (Stevens run) 8:20
S -- Travis Grither 16 pass from Weiler (Billings pass from Weiler), 5:42
D -- Stevens 1 run (Cliff kick), 2:05
|Time of Possession||27:52||20:08|
Ste. Genevieve -- Brandon Weiler 15-33, Jacob Billings 5-46. Dexter -- Joshua Overall 15-86, Nick Summers 13-78, Cody Stevens 1-(-1), Alex Cliff 3-10, Chase Young 1-30.
Ste. Genevieve -- Brandon Weiler 31-46-1 323. Dexter -- Cody Stevens 11-15-0 270.
Ste. Genevieve -- Adam Schwent 9-89, Jacob Roe 8-88, Travis Grither 6-83, Jacob Billings 5-24, Dylan Noll 3-39. Dexter -- Jake Cox 3-112, Tyler Miller 3-57, Morgan Hedrick 3-56, Chase Young 1-26, Alex Cliff 1-19.