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La Salle-Peru’s Kobey Fusinetti (No. 34) intercepts a pass during the second quarter Friday during the Cavaliers’ 13-10 loss to Dixon in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game at Howard Fellows Stadium. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
The La Salle-Peru football team’s defense gave the Cavaliers the chance to win Friday night.
The Cavaliers intercepted two passes that led to scores and held Dixon to 237 total yards.
However, the L-P offense couldn’t do its part.
The Cavs managed just 177 total yards and could only score on the short fields provided by the two turnovers as they lost 13-10 to Dixon in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game on Homecoming at Howard Fellows Stadium.
“The defense played their butts off to give up 13 points against a pretty decent offense that can strike at any time,” L-P coach Joe Sassano said. “Our offense has to come up with more than 10 points to win some games. We can’t constantly keep relying on our defense. It just can’t happen unless you can run the football.”
The Cavs couldn’t against a Dixon defense that stacked the line of scrimmage.
L-P managed just 32 rushing yards on 29 attempts — an average of 1.1 yards per carry.
The Dukes also played tight on L-P’s receivers, jamming them on the line, which helped Dixon limit the Cavs to 145 yards through the air.
“Offensively, we couldn’t do anything,” Sassano said. “They were jamming our receivers. We couldn’t get off the line of scrimmage. We couldn’t protect the quarterback. We had a few decent running plays and a few decent pass plays, but we were never really able to put anything consistent together and we were never really able to take control and drive that field. That was basically the story of it. “We have struggled all year to run the football, so teams now can just pin their ears back and come get us. They did just that tonight.”
Despite the offensive woes, the Cavs took a 10-6 halftime lead.
L-P senior Mason Donahue intercepted a pass with 1:46 left before intermission to give the Cavs possession on Dixon’s 38-yard line.
After two incompletions, L-P quarterback Colby Sassano connected with Logan Zeman for a 33-yard pass down to the 5.
On the next play, Tyler Thompson plowed into the end zone for a 5-yard score, and the extra point by Jon Sydlowski gave L-P a 7-6 lead with 1:22 left.
On the first play of Dixon’s ensuing drive, a pass by Dixon quarterback J.D. Gieson tipped off the hands of receiver Dante Victum and into the hands of L-P’s Kobey Fusinetti.
The Cavs drove it down to the 13 — highlighted by a 32-yard pass from Sassano to Thompson — which allowed Sydlowski to boot a 29-yard field goal as time expired.
Following a scoreless third quarter, the Dukes marched 55 yards on nine plays with fullback Cody Mighell running five times for 39 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run with 8:47 left for a 13-10 lead.
L-P’s ensuing drive was stalled by a delay of game penalty followed by an intentional grounding that forced the Cavs to punt and give Dixon possession with 5:25 left.
The Cavs (1-5, 0-2 NIB 12 West) had several chances to get the ball back quickly, but Dixon recovered a fumble, L-P was called for spearing on a third-down stop and a Mighell was ruled down on a play he dropped the ball.
When Dixon (2-4, 1-1 NIB 12 West) finally have to punt with less than a minute left, it rolled down to the 1-yard line.
Colby Sassano threw two incompletions and an 8-yard pass to Clay Vaini before he was intercepted.
“We had a possible fumble, but hey, that’s a call the official makes,” Joe Sassano said. “Our kids were fighting and scrapping. It didn’t go our way.”
Notes: The Cavs were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. … In the sophomore game, L-P scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes to win 27-20. … L-P senior linebacker Alex “Moose” Duncan was Homecoming king. He was unable to play due to an injury.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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