Powder Valley freshman Seth Dixon had seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the Badgers’ 54-48 loss to St. Paul Friday. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
NORTH POWDER — One half of football wasn’t enough for Powder Valley to beat St. Paul in the season opener Friday.
The Badgers trailed 42-12 after the first half and nearly pulled off a comeback. The game ended in a 54-48 loss.
“It took us a little while to get going,” Badgers head coach Dan Townsend said. “St. Paul is a good team and you can’t give them anything, certainly not as much as we did in the first half.”
But the Badgers came ready in the second half. Powder Valley and St. Paul traded touchdowns in the third quarter. The Badgers went to the air to reach the end zone. Senior Chace Dixon connected on one of his six touchdown passes to Quin Stephens to open the scoring, cutting the lead to 42-20.
“Chace did a great job making adjustments,” Townsend said. “It took a little while for him to find his rhythm. It didn’t help that receivers kept going down. But he led the team the way a quarterback is supposed to.”
St. Paul took a 54-26 lead headed into the fourth quarter of play following a 75-yard touchdown run by Tyler Smith.
Dixon hooked up with his freshman brother, Seth, in the fourth quarter. It’s a connection that fans can look forward to a lot this season.
“It was kind of strange,” Chace Dixon said. “We’ve played catch before, but this was a totally different experience. He did really well out there today. You never know how that first game is going to go for a freshman. I’m pretty excited to see what we can do the rest of the season.”
Next, sophomore Sean Stanford made a highlight-reel catch for a 70-yard touchdown to trim the lead to 14 points, 54-40.
Powder Valley recovered the onside kick, and quickly went back to the air with less than a minute left in the game.
The Dixon-to-Dixon combination worked again. A touch pass to the back pylon made the score 54-48, but just two seconds remained on the clock. The Badgers recovered the onside kick again, but there was no time left on the clock.
“I just wish we could have been ready to go from the start of the game,” Townsend said. “St. Paul had the luxury of playing a game last week, and I think that helps a lot. All we can do is learn from the game and get better. We’ll be more ready next week.”
Starting receivers Tyler Robinson and Jake Grammon went down with injuries in the first half. Powder Valley was already shorthanded with Brock Jones sidelined with a hip-flexor injury.
“We had to play more young guys than we expected due to injuries. I was proud of the way that everyone bounced back. They didn’t take the easy way and give up on the game.”
Chace Dixon finished the day completing 23-of-40 pass attempts for 402 yards.
Seth Dixon caught seven passes for 142 yards with three touchdowns. Stephens finished with 140 yards on 10 receptions.
Grammon caught four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown before going down with lower leg cramps.
Stephens also led the team in rushing, carrying the ball eight times for 89 yards. Chace Dixon added 51 yards with 12 attempts, and he reached the end zone once.
Powder Valley will play Echo at 5 p.m. Friday at Hermiston High School.