Dixon, Easterday highlight Cavalier rout of Pana
By Eric Becker
Kyle Dixon celebrated his 18th birthday Friday in style, catching five first-half touchdown passes, including a crazy catch and run on the final play of the first half, to cap a 49-12 home victory over Pana in a key South Central Conference football game in front of an estimated 1,651 fans.
Jarret Easterday threw seven first-half touchdown passes as Carlinville improved to 4-0 on the season, heading to Roxana next Friday. The Cavaliers were ranked fourth in Class 3A, and Pana was seventh in Class 2A in a clash of talented programs.
It was Pana who tried to take early momentum, but the Cavaliers had a defensive stop inside the 10-yard line which led to a major change in the course of events which transpired.
“That was not our normal start,” said Carlinville coach Chad Easterday. “Happy to see our defensive stand, and then I thought Jarret threw the ball really well, and you can’t say enough positive things about Kyle Dixon. Overall I was very pleased, I thought we kept the pressure on them throughout the first half and getting to that running clock I was very proud of our effort there as far as intensity and not getting lackadaisical about our jobs.”
Dixon had a drop early in the game, but atoned for it in a big way. The Cavies went three and out on their first possession, and a short punt led to Pana getting the ball at the Carlinville 45-yard line to start the game.
Quarterback Jack Armstrong completed passes of 11 and 13 yards to Lane Perry, and along with a holding penalty by Carlinville, the Panthers had the ball first and goal at the seven-yard line.
Pana moved the ball to the one yard line, where on fourth down and goal, Armstrong was stopped on a run and the Cavaliers took over at their own six-yard line.
Ethan Hughes moved the ball 23 yards on a rush to the 29-yard line, then J. Easterday and Dixon connected on the first of five touchdowns, a high deep pass down the left sideline which Dixon caught in stride and ran it in from 71 yards. It was 7-0 with 6:47 left in the opening quarter, after Matt Schmidt’s first of seven extra point kicks.
The Panthers were forced to punt, and the Cavaliers took over at midfield. Two 25-yard passes later from J. Easterday to Jake Ambuel, the Cavies held a 14-0 lead at the 4:39 mark.
Pana lost the ball on downs at the Cavies’ 48-yard line, and Carlinville needed just two more plays to go 45 yards, when Dixon hauled in a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0 with 1:22 left in the quarter.
While time of possession was not nearly as bad as last week against Litchfield in the first quarter, Carlinville had the ball for just 2:37 of the first quarter this week in building the lead.
After another Pana punt, the Cavaliers stormed 38 yards in five plays, with Dixon catching an eight-yard touchdown pass for the first-half hat trick, his third scoring catch of the half. It was 28-0 with 9:45 left in the half.
Pana got on the board when Armstrong connected with Cody Klein on a 66-yard touchdown pass, and with 9:02 left it was 28-6.
Carlinville responded once more, a 66-yard drive in seven plays, capped by Dixon catching a 22-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-6 with 5:59 left in the half.
The Panthers again lost the ball on downs, and Carlinville would march 33 yards on four plays getting an 18-yard pass from J. Easterday to Ambuel and a 42-6 lead with 3:20 left in the half.
The Cavies threatened but came up short on a scoring drive after a nifty punt return by Ambuel inside the Panther 10-yard line, but with nine seconds left in the half, Carlinville got the ball back on a punt.
It would be plenty of time. At their own 42 yard-line, J. Easterday swung a pass into the flat to Dixon, who made the catch on the left side of the field, found running room and crossed the field into Pana territory, finding the right side of the field and able to get into the end zone somehow as time expired in the first half. It was 49-6 Cavaliers at the break after Dixon’s fifth first-half touchdown reception.
“When he (Dixon) touches the football, he’s a very dynamic individual,” said C. Easterday. “That’s a kid making a great play in the right times and the right opportunities.”
Carlinville was held scoreless in the second half for the second straight week, but once again the damage had been done, as the Cavies got to the running clock for the entire second half against a Pana program which has traditionally given the Cavaliers fits.
The Panthers trailed the all-time series 8-7 coming into the game, but had won two of the last three games at Carlinville, including a 25-23 win two years ago after trailing 17-0 early.
Pana got its final score of the game early in the third quarter, when Armstrong and Klein hooked up on a 62-yard touchdown pass to make it 49-12. The Panthers got the ball to the Cavalier seven-yard line early in the fourth quarter but lost the ball on downs.
It was the steady running of Wallace and the consistent passing game which created a dynamic effect for the Cavaliers offensively.
“You have to cover 52 yards on us,” C. Easterday said. “If you don’t, last week it was Nick Walton and Jake Ambuel and suddenly Wallace pops in there. I think it causes some conflict for defenses and I’m just very proud out of our kids’ efforts tonight.”
Wallace rushed for 144 yards on 15 carries. J. Easterday completed 15 of 22 passes for 315 yards and seven touchdowns. Dixon caught eight passes for 219 yards and five touchdowns. Ambuel finished with six catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
All told, Carlinville held a 466-272 edge in total yards, including 151-37 on the ground. They had 19 first downs to nine for Pana, despite having possession for just 21:36, compared to 27:24 for the Panthers.
Pana was led by Armstrong, completing 15 of 27 passes for 235 yards and two scores. Klein had five catches for 150 yards and two scores. Armstrong led the rushing attack with just 13 yards on 14 carries. Pana was 0 for 5 on fourth down conversions and 2 for 11 on third downs.
Freshman Charlie Kessinger of Carlinville blocks a Pana player during the freshman Cavaliers contest Friday night, won by Pana.
Cheerleaders hold up the sign prior to the Carlinville-Pana varsity football game Friday night.
Members of the Carlinville High School band perform during Friday’s halftime performance.
Sydney Leonard, portraying the Cavalier, with her horse during the halftime show Friday night.
Inside the numbers
Friday at Carlinville
Pana 00 06 06 00 – 12
*Carlinville 21 28 00 00 – 49
C – K. Dixon 71 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 6:47
C – J. Ambuel 25 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 4:39
C – K. Dixon 42 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 1:22
C – K. Dixon 8 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 9:45
P – C. Klein 66 pass from J. Armstrong (kick failed) 9:02
C – K. Dixon 22 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 5:59
C – J. Ambuel 18 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 3:20
C – K. Dixon 58 pass from J. Easterday (M. Schmidt kick) 0:00
P – C. Klein 62 pass from J. Armstrong (conversion failed) 10:35
Rushing – Pana: J. Armstrong 14-13; M. Mizeur 5-11; L. Perry 2-8; B. Edmiston 2-4; B. Holthaus 1-1. Carlinville: E. Wallace 15-144; K. Dixon 1-7; C. DeLong 1-2; J. Easterday 2-0; M. Byots 1-(-2).
Passing – Pana: J. Armstrong 15-27-0 235. Carlinville: J. Easterday 15-22-0 315.
Receiving – Pana: C. Klein 5-150; B. Edmiston 4-44; L. Perry 3-24; D. Spracklen 1-11; C. Owens 1-8; S. Nollman 1-(-2). Carlinville: K. Dixon 8-219; J. Ambuel 6-87; C. DeLong 1-9.
1st downs 9 19
3rd downs 2-11 2-5
4th downs 0-5 0-1
Rushes-yards 24-37 20-151
Pass yards 235 315
Total yards 272 466
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties 4-30 4-45
Time Poss 27:24 21:36
Att: 1,651 (est.)