Dixon denies Spring Creek's bid for season-opening win
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 24, 2013 11:26 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Learn from your mistakes.
Spring Creek head football coach Aaron Sanders stressed that to his heart-broken team after a 27-22, season-opening loss to Dixon at "The Swamp" on Friday evening.
Lack of execution inside the red zone, three costly turnovers and a breakdown on special teams foiled the Gators' bid to snap an 11-game skid in season openers.
"There were a lot of positives, some negatives," Sanders said. "We certainly had our opportunities. We didn't convert some of those opportunities. To play what I think is a pretty good ball team to within five points is promising heading into the rest of the season.
"We just have to cut out mistakes."
Spring Creek drove into Dixon's red zone on two of its first three possessions and had another stall at the Bulldogs' 25-yard line -- all within the first 15 minutes of the game. The Gators stopped themselves with a fake field goal attempt that resulted in a turnover on downs, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and another turnover on downs.
Meanwhile, Gators' defense picked off a Bulldogs' pass, forced two three-and-out series and caused a fumbled snap on a punt attempt, which led to SC's first touchdown of the season.
An illegal shift penalty pushed the ball from the 3-yard line back to the 8. Senior quarterback Anthony Russo called his own number for a 4-yard scoring scamper on second-and-goal with 8:45 to go in the half.
Russo finished with 102 yards of total offense, including 73 on the ground.
The teams traded fumbles before Dixon opened up its passing game and forged a 6-6 tie on Malik Simmons' first touchdown run of the season. An interception set up the Bulldogs' second TD -- a 2-yard dive by Deangelo Williams with 20 seconds remaining before intermission.
"I told the boys at halftime that we played well the first quarter and the first three minutes or so of the second quarter," Sanders said. "(But) we have to convert when we get into the red zone. We had that problem at the beginning of last year. You can't afford to make mistakes inside the red zone."
Dixon kept the momentum in the third.
Tyler Ross took the opening kickoff 70 yards to the house and another interception set up Simmons' 33-yard gallop barely three minutes into the third quarter.
"A snowball effect," Sanders said. "The offense cannot put the defense in a bad situation like that. That is something we are going to have to learn from. We have boys who want to excel, do well and be in ballgames.
"They'll understand why we can't make those mistakes."
The Bulldogs capped their scoring on Ross' 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Gators answered with two touchdowns in a two-minute span and pulled within 27-22. Russo rambled in from 2 yards out and connected with Tre Hammonds for a 29-yard scoring play. Hammonds for 87 yards of total offense on the night.
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