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Tigers can’t maintain lead, lose 30-20 to Dixie

Jacquez Warren pressures Dixie County quarterback Shaquille Mitchem.

Jacquez Warren pressures Dixie County quarterback Shaquille Mitchem.


BY CLIFF SMELLEY

Regional News/Sports Editor

Union County High School took advantage of four first-half turnovers to lead by one at the half, but host Dixie County outscored the Tigers 18-7 in the second half en route to winning the Class 1A-Region 4 championship 30-20 on Nov. 22 in Cross City.

The Bears (10-0) had explosive scoring plays at the start and end of the first half, with Kendall Copeland scoring on a 48-yard run and James Horsely catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from Shaquille Mitchem. In between, though, Dixie committed four turnovers, with the Tigers (10-2) turning two of those into points. A 6-yard touchdown run by Daquin “Buddy” Edwards put Union up 7-6 in the first quarter, while Phillip Lillie had a 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put the Tigers up 13-6.

Union, despite having the lead, was outgained 172-76 in the first half. Things weren’t much better for the Tigers in the second half as the offense ran just three plays from scrimmage in the third quarter.

“We wanted to be in it at halftime, and we were up,” Union head coach Ronny Pruitt said. “We let them get the momentum, and we didn’t get it back.”

The Union defense made two stands in the third quarter, giving up a 25-yard field goal after the Bears had a first-and-goal at the 10 and later forcing the Bears to turn the ball over on downs after a first-and-goal at the 5. Union quarterback Caleb Cox was sacked in the end zone one play after the turnover on downs, resulting in a safety and a 17-13 Dixie lead. The Bears then took the ensuing free kick and marched 60 yards for another score—an 18-yard touchdown run by Julian Robinson.

The Tigers did make it a three-point game when Cox threw a perfect pass to Cody Miller in the back corner of the end zone, but the score occurred with just 3:46 left to play. Union tried an unsuccessful onside kick, with the Bears then tacking on another score on a 20-yard touchdown run by Copeland.

“They outplayed us tonight,” Pruitt said. “They deserved to win.”

Cox finished the game 12-of-26 for 117 yards, with Miller catching two passes for 20 yards and Princeton Alexander catching five for 50 yards.

Lillie had six carries for 44 yards, but because of tackles behind the line of scrimmage, the Tigers had just 30 yards rushing as a team.

Dixie, which will travel to play Trenton in a state semifinal game on Friday, Nov. 29, finished with 348 total yards.

Josh Smith finishes off a tackle of Dixie running back Kendall Copeland.

Josh Smith finishes off a tackle of Dixie running back Kendall Copeland.

Josh Smith finishes off a tackle of Dixie running back Kendall Copeland.

Josh Smith finishes off a tackle of Dixie running back Kendall Copeland.

The Tigers’ Phillip Lillie fights through tacklers.

The Tigers’ Phillip Lillie fights through tacklers.

Phillip Lillie dives into the end zone for the Tigers’ second score of the game.

Phillip Lillie dives into the end zone for the Tigers’ second score of the game.

Geordyn Green (foreground) and Austin Dukes tackle Dixie County’s Kyle Lamar.

Geordyn Green (foreground) and Austin Dukes tackle Dixie County’s Kyle Lamar.

Union’s Geordyn Green tries to elude a tackle in the backfield.

Union’s Geordyn Green tries to elude a tackle in the backfield.

Buddy Edwards looks for room to run for the Tigers.

Buddy Edwards looks for room to run for the Tigers.

Daquin “Buddy” Edwards hurdles a couple of Dixie County defenders.

Daquin “Buddy” Edwards hurdles a couple of Dixie County defenders.

Dixie County’s Kendall Copeland gets taken down by Austin Dukes.

Dixie County’s Kendall Copeland gets taken down by Austin Dukes.

Casey Driggers comes up celebrating with teammate Austin Dukes after intercepting a pass.

Casey Driggers comes up celebrating with teammate Austin Dukes after intercepting a pass.

Union quarterback Caleb Cox is sacked in the end zone for a safety. Talon Tyler (background, left) and Brandon Archer are also pictured for the Tigers.

Union quarterback Caleb Cox is sacked in the end zone for a safety. Talon Tyler (background, left) and Brandon Archer are also pictured for the Tigers.

Caleb Cox gets off a pass before taking a hit.

Caleb Cox gets off a pass before taking a hit.

Princeton Alexander runs after making a catch in the first half.

Princeton Alexander runs after making a catch in the first half.

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