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Elk Grove Citizen

Dixon plays 'sloppy' in GEL title game

Oct 29, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, sports editor

Dixon senior wide receiver Luis Torres runs for a first down after catching a pass during a 41-14 loss at Casa Roble in the Golden Empire League championship game on Friday, October 28 in Orangevale.

Rams’ repeat hopes end with 41-14 loss at Casa Roble

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) – An impressive regular season came to a bitter end on Friday night in Orangevale as the Dixon varsity football team was soundly defeated by Casa Roble in the Golden Empire League championship game.

In a clash of the Rams, Casa defeated Dixon 41-14. Both teams came into the game at 8-1 overall and 4-0 in league play. Dixon’s quest for a second straight GEL crown came to an end with the loss.

Dixon coach Wes Besseghini bluntly summarized his team’s performance as “sloppy” after the game.

“They were a really good football team, and we knew that coming in,” Besseghini told the Independent Voice. “We knew we had to play almost a perfect game to beat them, and we didn’t do it, that’s what it comes down to. Not taking anything away from them because we knew we had to be almost perfect, and we weren’t tonight. We didn’t do what we needed to.”

Casa got going early, as senior running back Josh Taylor broke multiple tackles and stumbled on a 19-yard rush into the end zone on 4th and 1 nearly seven minutes into the game. Casa’s next score was set up quickly by junior Logan March who intercepted Dixon senior quarterback Jett Harris 25-seconds after Casa’s first touchdown.

The Rams of Orangevale took advantage of the costly mistake as sophomore quarterback Connor Campbell found junior wide receiver Cole Owens for the 27-yard score on 3rd and 6. Owens has been one of the team’s best players all season and was given the nickname “Cyborg” by Casa coach Chris Horner.

RELATED: Rams score season-high in win at Mesa Verde

The remainder of the first half included multiple punts, a blocked field goal by Dixon and Campbell with two turnovers, one interception and one lost fumble. However, Dixon struggled to get into the end zone, leaving the score 14-0 Casa at halftime.

Casa took a decisive advantage midway through the third quarter when junior outside linebacker Evan Combs intercepted Harris. Combs looked like he was going to go down several times. Nevertheless, broken tackle after broken tackle, the junior ran all the way into the end zone for six.

Dixon finally got on the scoreboard with 3:43 left in the third period, when Harris found senior wide receiver Brent Green for a nine-yard score. Dixon attempted an onside kick to get back into the game, but it failed, subsequently giving Casa great field position to start its next drive.

Recent varsity call-up, sophomore running back Braylen Blevins, got into the action in the second half after Taylor hurt his knee, scoring twice on the ground. In between Blevins’ two scores, Dixon senior running back Braden Baumbach rushed in for a touchdown from two yards out.

The final scoring play of the game came with 5:24 remaining. Owens set it up with an interception defensively. On the next offensive play, Owens bobbled and hauled in a 70-yard bomb from Campbell for his second touchdown of the night. Casa ultimately won 41-14 to cement themselves in history as league champions.

RELATED: Dixon earns pivotal win over Pioneer on Senior Night

Despite the loss, Bessighni was able to identify bright spots that the team can take from the loss into the postseason that begins this Friday, November 4.

“I think there are guys on this team that fight and never quit,” Bessighni said. “As long as that continues, we’ll always have a shot. I think that Brent Green stuck out to me as somebody that kept fighting. Luis Torres kept fighting. Our offensive and defensive line kept fighting all night long. Braden Baumbach kept fighting. There are guys on this team that wanna fight and do everything they can and that’s the bright spot for me.”

Harris completed 17-of-37 pass attempts for 218 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. The senior quarterback rushes nine times for 48 yards as well. Senior running back Braden Baumbach finished with a team-high 74 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also added a team-high of nine tackles on defense.

Green made plays in all three facets on Friday night. The senior recorded six catches for a team-high 69 yards and a touchdown as a wide receiver. As a free safety, he tallied five tackles and an interception. On special teams, he blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

Torres also contributed to all three phases. He had three catches for 46 yards offensively, six tackles defensively and was 1-of-1 on point after tries on special teams. Senior middle linebacker Matthew Whitaker finished with seven total tackles with two of them for a loss of yards, including a jarring hit on Taylor in the first quarter.

“That senior class can achieve anything it wants to if it can bring everybody with them,” Bessighini proclaimed.

Even though the Rams are not league champions again this season, their regular season record was good enough to qualify for the playoffs. Dixon is the No. 6 seed in the 2022 Division V CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Football Playoffs.

The Rams will host No. 11 seed Foothill (6-4, 4-1 Greater Sacramento League) this Friday at 7 p.m.