Saturday’s afternoon game at Veterans Memorial Stadium certainly didn’t look like a last-place team against a team fighting for their playoff lives.
The Clear Falls Knights gave Dickinson all it could handle, but the Gators pulled away for a 49-21 win.
“I have no doubt that the future is very bright for Clear Falls football,” Knights head coach Zach Head said. “It’s a testament to our kids. We talked all week about playing for our seniors, they so desperately deserve to get a district win. … They battled their butts off. I’m so proud of them. It’s easy to just lay down now, and it shows the true character of these young men.”
Dickinson marched down the field on its opening possession of the game, capping a long drive with a 5-yard Myles Lewis (19 carries, 96 yards) touchdown run — the first of his four TDs in the game.
Clear Falls answered back late in the first quarter, though. A 34-yard run by Will Broadus on a fake punt was followed by 19-yard TD connection from Gavin Esquivel (22-for-39, 232 yards) to Cam Davis on a swing pass to knot the score, 7-7, with 2:45 left in the first quarter.
Lewis shed multiple tacklers on an 11-yard TD run to finish off a 10-play possession to put the Gators back up, 14-7, seven seconds into the second quarter.
Dickinson capitalized on a Clear Falls lost fumble at the Knights’ 15-yard line with Lewis eventually getting his third TD of the game from 2 yards out for the 21-7 lead at the 8:43 mark of the second quarter.
On Clear Falls’ next possession, a 49-yard run by Jude Ballew (10 carries, 87 yards) helped set up a 13-yard TD scramble by Davis to cut the deficit down to 21-14.
Another 10-play Dickinson scoring drive ended with a 7-yard TD run by Dylan Savage, but Clear Falls took advantage of a Gators miscue right before the end of the first half to keep things close.
An interception by Noah Fuentes (who also had a hard-hitting pass breakup in the game) gave Clear Falls the ball at Dickinson’s 39, and a 31-yard TD pass from Esquivel to Brandon Woodson (five receptions, 90 yards) set the score at 28-21 with 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
“First half, we just really didn’t look like we were ready to play; I have to do a better job of getting us ready to play,” Gators head coach John Snelson said. “Second half, we just went in and just regrouped, and came out and played a lot more fundamental football.”
A sack by Evan Lingo forced a punt on Dickinson’s opening possession of the second half, and, brimming with confidence, Clear Falls’ offense drove down the field looking to tie the game. The Knights reached Dickinson’s 33-yard line, but a big stop on fourth-and-short swung momentum to the Gators.
Montel Parker (11 carries, 96 yards; 9-for-16, 137 yards) dashed up the middle on a quarterback keeper 55 yards for a back-breaking TD and a 35-21 lead midway through the third quarter.
Dickinson added a TD in the third quarter on a 10-yard Lewis run (set up by a 45-yard pass by Parker to Daryl Harris) and another with 1:36 left in the game on an 18-yard TD pass from Parker to Harris.
Clear Falls showed fight until the very end, though, scoring on a trick play pass from Davis to Daniel Dishman, who showed great concentration hauling in the ball off a Dickinson deflection, at the 9:49 mark of the fourth quarter to cut the score to 42-28.
The Knights also had two promising fourth-quarter drives snuffed out by a pair of Bryon Broussard interceptions, and ran out of time on the game clock on another.
“We just took a well-coached, great football team for four quarters, and battled as hard as we could” Head said. “I’m very proud of our guys. A couple bounces didn’t go our way, we’ll learn from those.”
The game was fairly even in total yards of offense, with Dickinson edging Clear Falls, 458-447.
Both teams wrap up their respective regular seasons 7 p.m. Friday. Dickinson (6-2 overall, 4-2 in District 24-6A) hosts Clear Brook, while Clear Falls (1-7, 0-6) faces Clear Creek at Veterans Memorial Stadium.