DEXTER -- Dexter couldn't hold it together for four quarters.
Eventually, Park Hills wore down the young Bearcat squad with a powerful running game and an equally impressive run-stopping defense to match.
Park Hills gashed Dexter for 404 rushing yards and handed the Bearcats their third-straight loss 27-7 Friday at Charles Bland Stadium in Dexter.
"That's their bread and butter. Their strength is their offensive and defensive line and it showed," Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley said about Park Hills. "I thought for a half we did a decent job against the run. We bent, but we didn't break. In the second half, we just wore down."
Park Hills running back Cody Harrison had a game high 136 yards on 14 carries (9.7 average) while the Rebels ran for four touchdowns with four different rushers.
Dexter had a difficult time balancing their offense attack due in most part to Park Hills' ability to stuff the run. The Bearcats rushed for 42 yards on 40 carries while quarterback DJ Dowdy threw for 146 yards on 8 of 17 passing.
Dowdy had a tough time staying on his feet when he wasn't on the run.
Dexter's junior quarterback was sacked five times for 32 yards lost and ran the ball 13 times for a total of 13 yards. He gained a net total of 54 yards but lost 41 when sacks and being hit behind the line of scrimmage during scrambles were figured in.
"We couldn't protect our quarterback and had a hard time getting off blocks on defense and getting to the ball," Pixley said. "At times, I wish he would just throw it away and not take the hit and sacks, but at the same time, if he does get out of there, he can make something happen with his feet. We just need to protect him a little better."
The Bearcats (1-7) had the majority of their success on their very first drive of the game.
Dowdy marched the Bearcats 75 yards down the field for their first score, hitting freshman Ethan Stevens for a 14-yard touchdown pass to take a quick 7-0 lead.
"We can do things like that," said Pixley, "it's just being consistent with it. It's just a pretty inconsistent football team and not a whole lot of depth.
"That first drive of the game, I felt like we were composed and poised. We didn't really run the ball, but we protected the quarterback and threw the ball very, very well."
Dowdy passed for 56 yards -- nearly a third of his total passing yards -- during the 13-play scoring drive.
"He did a good job of eluding us a lot of times," Park Hills head coach Corey Schweiss said about Dowdy. "I'm sure we had several sacks, but he made plays for them. But, it's hard when you have to throw it because we were stopping the running game all night."
Following Dexter's first drive, Park Hills shut down much of Dexter's offensive firepower by pressuring Dowdy in the backfield and flying to the Bearcats' ball carriers at will. That left Dexter with seemingly one option of trying to move the ball through the air.
"Our defense has played outstanding all year," Schweiss said. "We knew that if we made them one dimensional it was going to be tough. We were bringing a lot of pressure to their quarterback."
Park Hills (6-2) captured a small lead just before the first quarter ended after Derek Mitchell, who ran for 74 yards on 13 carries, barreled through Dexter's defense for a 6-yard run. Mitchell immediately ran in a 2-point conversion giving the Rebels an 8-7 lead and an advantage they wouldn't relinquish.
"I felt good about our kids at halftime," said Pixley. "They were in good spirits. It was just in the second half they wore us down and we couldn't stop their run."
The 8-7 first quarter stood at halftime setting the vibe for another possible classic in the making between the two schools. Last year, Park Hills escaped the Bearcats with a 29-28 Class 3 Regional win after nearly pulling off an upset earlier in 2011 37-27 in Dexter's favor.
"The games that we have with these guys are usually tough," said Schweiss. "Aaron (Pixley) does a tremendous job with his kids and we knew they graduated a ton, but they still fought."
A 1-yard run by Reid Lucas pushed Park Hills' lead to one possession but then a 61-yard dash by Daniel Marler right before the fourth quarter deflated Dexter's upset chances in an instant.
"We didn't really make a ton of adjustments," Schweiss said. "In the first half we had two turnovers and we only had the ball four times. Our defense stepped up and made some good stops. Otherwise, we would have been down at halftime."
Jon Comfort capped the game with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter while both teams began subbing players for playing time.
"Offensively, after our first drive, I thought we played well," said Schweiss. "We were a little flat and I'm always worried about that after the bus ride down here. But, our boys fought and overcame."
Although their offense wasn't up to par, Dexter didn't go without their chances at scoring close to pay dirt.
Twice in the first half the Bearcats failed to notch points while in the red zone. First, Dexter did not convert on fourth and long on Park Hills' 11-yard line. Following a Rebel fumble recovered by Dexter's Jonathan Foels, Dexter marched down to the Park Hill 7-yard line and elected to try for a go-ahead field goal.
Dexter kicker Brad Wick had his attempt blocked and recovered by Park Hills' Austin Caldwell.
The Bearcats also recovered three fumbles but couldn't convert the takeaways into points.
"That's whenever you really need to run the football," Pixley said about their red zone chances. "The field really squeezes down on you and you don't have much room to throw the football. That's when you have to be able to run the football, but we're not there yet."
Park Hills ended up with 419 total yards to Dexter's 188.
Dexter's leading receiver, Chase Young, caught four passes for 108 yards including a 66-yard catch and run in the second quarter that put the Bearcats and the Rebels' 4-yard line. Dexter went turned the ball over on downs trying to score.
The Bearcats will try and notch their second win of the season next week when they take on Malden in their final game of the year.
D -- DJ Dowdy 14 pass to Ethan Stevens (Brad Wick kick), 7:02
P -- Derek Mitchell 6 run (Mitchell run), 1:42
P -- Reid Lucas 1 run (pass failed), 6:51
P -- Daniel Marler 61 run (Jon Comfort kick), 1:48
P -- Comfort 11 run (kick failed), 1:16
RUSHING -- Park Hills, Cody Harrison 14-136, Derek Mitchell 13-74, Reid Lucas 7-46, Daniel Marler 6-94, Hunter Courtois 6-18, Sam Holloway 3-21, Logan Comfort 1-11, DJ Buckhanan 1-4. Dexter, DJ Dowdy 13-13, Ryan Joyner 12-1, Brad Wick 9-9, Chase Young 2-11, Jonathan Foels 2-3, Tim Spence 1-5, Ethan Stevens 1-0.
PASSING -- Park Hills, Hunter Courtois 1-5-0 15. Dexter, DJ Dowdy 8-17-0 146.
RECEIVING -- Park Hills, Austin Caldwell 1-15. Dexter, Chase Young 4-108, Ethan Stevens 4-38.
MISSED FIELD GOAL -- Dexter, Brad Wick 22.