By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal
NEW ALBANY – Deonte Dilworth opened it with a bang and Rashad Dixon closed it the same way.
Dilworth’s 61-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage gave Pontotoc a rousing start, and Dixon ran for an 81-yard score on its final play of the evening as the Warriors knocked off New Albany 20-6 in a non-division match on Friday.
“I love running the ball, and we came out with great intensity,” said Dilworth, a 5-foot-8, 160 pound junior, who finished with 19 carries for 164 yards. “The first run, we thought they were going to stop us, so we checked it at the line – and touchdown.”
The long runs were bookends on what was an otherwise hard-fought match.
New Albany pulled within 7-6 on a flea-flicker from quarterback Spencer Day to wide receiver Josh Hardin, who pitched to Boston Newsome to complete the 30-yard play with 9:30 remaining in the first half.
Pontotoc went ahead on its following possession on an 18-yard pass from Dixon to Shaquille Crayton. The score remained 13-6 until the final blow on Dixon’s long scamper.
“We started with a bang and we ended with a bang, but in the middle we hit a little bit of a lull,” said first-year Pontotoc coach Ken Byars, who has led the squad to a 3-0 start. “Our defense came up tough for us and made some good stops.”
The Bulldogs were stopped twice in the red zone in the second half. An interception by Pontotoc’s Shaquille Gillard halted New Albany (2-1) at the 4-yard line in the first series of the third quarter.
“This is a big rivalry and the ballgame came down to the very end, and I just hate to be on this side of it,” New Albany coach Ron Price said. “It came down to executing, and we couldn’t get it done.”
It was the first regular-season setback since 2009 for New Albany, who lost 22 players to graduation after last season’s 12-1 campaign.
Newsome, a junior running back, led the Bulldogs with 96 yards rushing on 18 carries and the TD.