Dixie Heights ends 31-game Bluebird district win streak
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior linebacker Trent Webster (63) makes a move against Dixie Heights senior tight end Brian Wulfeck (49).|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior quarterback Brady Gosney sets up for a long pass in Friday's game at Dixie Heights. Gosney completed 17-of-33 passes for 223 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.|
Instead, the program hit another low coming off a bye week. The Dixie Heights Colonels ran roughshod over the struggling Highlands Bluebird defense and kept the Bluebird offense off-balance most of the night with its pressure defense on its way to a 40-20 victory at Rice Mountjoy Stadium to open Class 5A, District 5 action.
Dixie (4-3 overall, 1-0 district) snapped a 31-game district winning streak for Highlands (1-6, 0-1) dating back to 2006 and a 13-game Highlands winning streak in the series going back to 2002. The loss also extended the worst losing streak for the Bluebirds since 1939 to six in a row.
The Colonels ran the ball well up the middle and around the end on a variety of sweeps and dives to the tune of 545 yards on 65 carries for an average of just under an astounding 8.4 yards per carry. Senior Jose Torres led the way going for 241 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns for an average of just under 11 yards per carry. Senior Cameron Barrett added 178 yards rushing on 14 carries and a touchdown averaging about 12.7 yards per carry and junior Brandon Barker rushed the ball 19 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns averaging about 4.7 yards per carry.
"They had some really good players who made plays (Friday)," said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. "We have to get better. We have to go back (Saturday), look at the film and get as good as we can. You can't look back. We have to learn from our mistakes and be a little more physical. That's what they did to us (Friday) and it showed."
Dixie Heights did not have to throw the ball much. But senior quarterback Austin Rice completed 2-of-4 passes for 20 yards. Both passes went to senior Giante Hicks giving the Colonels 565 yards of total offense. The Colonels converted 6-of-9 third-down opportunities for 67 percent and 2-of-3 on fourth down for the same percentage compared to 4-of-11 on third for 36 percent and 1-of-6 on fourth for 17 percent for Highlands.
"It was great. I was really proud of our kids," said Dave Brossart, fifth-year Dixie Heights Head Coach. "We are a team that likes to run the football. I think as far as match-ups, Highlands would rather play a team that's going to be athletic and spread the ball around with the passing game. I think they match up better with a lot of great passing teams. But when it comes to running the football, we were bigger up front than they were. It was a challenge for them to stop our run."
Things could have been worse if Highlands had not recovered three fumbles defensively. Senior linebacker Dalton Cornett recovered his team-high fourth fumble of the season on Dixie's opening drive with senior linebacker Trey Bowden and senior defensive back Kyle Rust recording their second fumble recoveries of the year.
On the other side, Highlands gained 276 yards on 62 carries for an average of about 4.5 yards per play. Under constant pressure all night including a few sacks, Highlands senior quarterback Brady Gosney completed 17-of-33 passes for 223 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Junior Braden Posey had seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown and junior Nick Veneman had four receptions for 63 yards and two scores.
The Bluebirds could not run the ball consistently enough to keep the Colonel defense off-balance. Highlands rushed for just 53 yards on 23 carries for an average of just 2.3 yards per carry. Senior Grant Murray had 66 yards rushing on 12 carries for an average of 5.5 per carry.
"We had guys we knew we were supposed to block," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We just kept letting a guy each time beat us. As a quarterback, it's hard to throw when you have a guy in your face."
Highlands turned the ball over twice. Hicks intercepted a Highlands screen pass in the second quarter and senior defensive back Logan Robinson recovered a Bluebird fumble, also in the first half.
"Our defense has been a question mark all year," Brossart said. "I think we were young last year, but in a way, we're still young this year with a lot of juniors up front. We did not play well against Conner and against Simon Kenton. I think (Friday) was our best game. Our kids came out here believing. Coach (Nick) Rice our defensive coordinator put a great game plan together. The kids worked hard and watched a lot of film. The defense for the first time played real physical and aggressive and I'm real proud of them."
The game started off well for Highlands. Senior Trent Buchert returned the opening kickoff 57 yards to the Dixie Heights 7. Two plays later, Gosney found Veneman on the right side of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown to put Highlands up 7-0 just 41 seconds into the game.
The Bluebirds could have added to the lead when Cornett recovered a Rice fumble at the Dixie Heights 43. But Highlands could not convert on third down.
Dixie Heights moved the ball downfield quickly and tied the game at 7-7 with 6:11 left in the first quarter when Torres scored from a yard out. But Highlands responded when Veneman raced past the Dixie Heights defense on a 49-yard post route to put Bluebirds up 14-7 with 3:53 left in the quarter.
That's when things started to go south for Highlands. Dixie Heights responded when Torres ran the ball in from a yard out with 46.7 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at 14.
But on the ensuing kick-off, Highlands fumbled the ball allowing Dixie to take over at the Bluebird 31. Torres broke free on a pitch right 24 yards for a touchdown to put the Colonels up for good at 21-14 just seven seconds into the second quarter.
The Colonels extended the lead to 28-14 at halftime. After Torres went down with an injury before returning in the second half, Barrett broke free for a 70-yard score with 8:36 left in the half.
Dixie Heights received the ball to open the second half. The Colonels ran significant time off the clock before fumbling the ball away to Highlands. The Bluebirds responded when Gosney found Posey for a 24-yard score with 2:15 left in the third quarter on fourth down. The score was 28-20 Dixie after the extra-point missed.
The Colonels put the game away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Torres scored from three yards out and Barker had a four-yard touchdown run.
Highlands takes on Covington Catholic (5-2, 1-0) on Friday in Fort Thomas. The blue Colonels took down Grant County, 56-7 in Dry Ridge on Friday.
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