Bears run over Tigers in huge district win

Dixie County running back James Bowers runs past Union County defender Darion Robinson for one of his two scores in the Bears' 30-12 win over the Tigers.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.

CROSS CITY — Brent Wilkerson calls it the 600-pound package, when Trey Simmons lines up in front of tailback James Bowers in the Dixie County backfield.

You know what is coming, but can you stop it?

Twice on Friday night, in a battle of highly ranked Class 1A teams and District 7 rivals, Union County couldn’t. Bowers scored on touchdown runs of 27 and 34 yards, and the Bears defense frustrated the top-ranked Tigers all night in a convincing 30-12 victory before a packed house at Bruce Boyette Stadium.

It marked Union’s first regular-season loss in District 7 in two years and for No. 3 Dixie County, snapped a six-game losing streak to the Tigers.

“Our defense is really good,” Wilkerson said. “We have only given up three touchdowns all year. We feel like our defense can keep us in a lot of ballgames.

“Sometimes we are a little vanilla on offense, but that is only because we don’t want to turn it over and give the other team a chance with bad field position. Our offense came through tonight and made some good plays when we needed it. We made some touchdown runs here and there. Bowers played tremendously.”

The Bears (4-0) dominated from the start and had a 30-0 lead before Union scored twice in the fourth when the game was well out of reach.

Bowers opened the scoring with a 27-yard run down the right sideline on Dixie County’s opening drive. He added the dagger early in the third on a fourth-and-6 situation at the Tigers’ 34. Taking the handoff, he bounced off his initial run up the middle, darted right and was gone and it was 30-0.

The state’s No. 1 team in 1A was going down.

“We told our team we have to come out and play hard, play as a unit, play as a family,” said Bowers, who also plays along the defensive line and finished with 69 yards rushing on just four carries. “We executed from the beginning of the game We kept sticking to them and sticking to them and came out with the win.

“I was pumped since last week, I was ready to play. If we keep executing like we have been, we will come out on top and win the district championship.”

Dixie, which was idle a week ago, is currently on top of District 7 at 2-0. Chiefland, which was idle Friday, is 1-0.

“We have a lot of young guys that have never experienced this,” said Tigers coach Ronny Pruitt. “We are asking an awful lot from guys that have never been in the fire. Tonight, they saw it and will learn from it. They will understand what penalties and putting the ball on the ground can do to you. They took advantage of two fumbles and scored two touchdowns off of them.”

Union (5-1) fumbled at its own 19-yard line early in the game, and Dixie took full advantage. Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Aaron Thomas tossed a beautiful corner route pass to Shaquille Mitchem for a 21-yard score. Bowers’ second straight 2-point conversion run made it 16-0 in the first.

The Bears defense turned back a Union threat late in the first half, when the Tigers reached the Dixie 2. But back-to-back stuffed plays at the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass ended the threat.

The Bears finished with 243 yards rushing, led by a talented trio of Julian Robinson (78 yards), Kendall Copeland (69 yards) and Bowers.

Geordyn Green led Union, rushing for 40 yards and catching three passes for 51 yards and one TD. Caleb Cox, the area’s leading passer, completed 13 of 30 passes for 112 yards and one score.

“It got a little monkey off our backs tonight,” Wilkerson said. “We haven’t beaten Union in several years and would play them tough in the past but would always come up short.

“This doesn’t put us in the driver’s seat in the district, we still have to beat Newberry and Chiefland. This district can definitely have a one-loss champion, so we are not going to take anything for granted. It is like the SEC.”

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