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Dixie ends Tigers’ season in regional finals for 2nd straight year

Quarterback Caleb Cox (left) gets sacked for the fifth time on the night by Dixie County’s James Bowers.

Quarterback Caleb Cox (left) gets sacked for the fifth time on the night by Dixie County’s James Bowers.



BY CLIFF SMELLEY

Staff Writer

Dixie County ended the Union County High School football team’s season again, scoring five straight touchdowns to build a 27-point lead and withstand a 22-point fourth quarter by the Tigers in a 50-37 win that gave the host Bears the Regional 4-1A championship.

The Bears (11-0) will now host Hamilton County (9-3) Friday, Nov. 28, in a state semifinal game. Hamilton defeated Trenton—last year’s state champion—45-20 to advance and end Trenton’s season with a 10-2 record.

For Union (9-3), it was a second loss to the Bears this season and a fourth straight loss to Dixie spanning the last two seasons.

“First, I want to say my hat’s off to Dixie County,” Union head coach Ronny Pruitt said. “It is what it is. They’ve owned us this year.

“We thought we had a good opportunity to come in here and spoil their night, but it didn’t work out that way.”

The Tigers capitalized on a Dixie fumble recovered by Parker Hodgson with quarterback Caleb Cox throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Zak Lee that put Union up 15-8.

Two big runs by Dixie quarterback Aaron Thomas seized the momentum and led to a seven-point halftime lead for the Bears. Thomas had a 39-yard run that helped set up James Bowers’ 1-yard touchdown run. Later, Thomas sprinted for a 54-yard touchdown that sent the Bears into the locker room up 22-15.

Dixie added three more touchdowns in the third quarter to go up 36-15. Then, with the Tigers threatening early in the fourth quarter, Quade Locke stepped in front of a Cox pass for his second interception of the night. He returned it more than 90 yards for a touchdown and a 42-15 lead.

Union made things interesting with Darian Robinson scoring on an 8-yard run and then recovering the ensuing onside kick. An 11-yard touchdown reception by Lee pulled the Tigers to within 42-31, but the Bears recovered Union’s next onside kick and marched 50 yards for another score.

Cox finished the game 21-of-38 for 319 yards and four touchdowns, but he was picked off four times.

Cody Miller caught seven passes for 141 yards and one touchdown, while Lee caught five passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Franklin Williams caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Dairon Alexander rushed for 55 yards on six carries.

The Bears didn’t attempt a pass, rushing 48 times for 374 yards. Bowers had 148 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, while Thomas had 115 yards and one touchdown on four carries. Julian Robinson had 14 carries for 108 yards and one touchdown.

Besides Locke’s two picks, the Bears got interceptions from Thomas and James Horsley.

Franklin Williams (far left) prepares to tackle Dixie running back Julian Robinson. The Tigers’ Zak Lee is also pictured.

Franklin Williams (far left) prepares to tackle Dixie running back Julian Robinson. The Tigers’ Zak Lee is also pictured.

Union wide receiver Franklin Williams (far left) and a couple of Dixie County defenders fail to come down with this late desperation pass.

Union wide receiver Franklin Williams (far left) and a couple of Dixie County defenders fail to come down with this late desperation pass.

Wide receiver Franklin Williams heads upfield for the Tigers.

Wide receiver Franklin Williams heads upfield for the Tigers.

Union running back Darian Robinson eludes a tackle in the backfield.

Union running back Darian Robinson eludes a tackle in the backfield.

Darian Robinson (second from right) tries to wrap up Dixie running back James Bowers. Also pictured are Union players (background, from left) Treyce Hersey, Josh Smith and Franklin Williams.

Darian Robinson (second from right) tries to wrap up Dixie running back James Bowers. Also pictured are Union players (background, from left) Treyce Hersey, Josh Smith and Franklin Williams.

Union wide receiver Cody Miller (right) runs after making one of his team-high seven catches.

Union wide receiver Cody Miller (right) runs after making one of his team-high seven catches.

The Tigers’ Isaiah Johnson (right) turns the ball upfield after making a catch.

The Tigers’ Isaiah Johnson (right) turns the ball upfield after making a catch.

Running back Antwan Durn (foreground) gets loose for a gain for the Tigers as teammate Cody Miller looks on.

Running back Antwan Durn (foreground) gets loose for a gain for the Tigers as teammate Cody Miller looks on.

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Dairon Alexander (left) carries the ball for the Tigers, while teammate Tyler McDavid looks to get a block.

Dairon Alexander (left) carries the ball for the Tigers, while teammate Tyler McDavid looks to get a block.

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