It had all the makings of a classic Geneseo come-from-behind playoff win.
But in the end, Dixon and dynamic dynamo Arthur Cox was just a little too much and the Dukes prevailed 40-35 Friday night in the Class 4A playoff game at A.C. Bowers Field.
The speedy Cox, who is listed at 5-foot-5, 152 pounds, finished with 313 yards rushing on 29 carries. He had four rushing touchdowns of 43, 50, 19 and 42 yards plus another TD on a 36-yard pass.
“It was tough,” said Cox who ran a 4.43 40 as a junior and proved it with incredible speed Friday against the Leafs. “Geneseo’s a physical team, and they’re big. They came ready to play.
“It was cold, so the hits were a little bit harder.”
Geneseo just would not go away and even got the ball back with 12.4 seconds left, time enough for sophomore QB Isaiah Rivera to heave two more long passes downfield. Rivera would finish 11-of-25 for 153 yards with one interception and one touchdown pass. The TD toss came with 2:11 to play to Kyle Wise from 26 yards out on a play that the Dixon faithful believed should have been offensive interference.
“I was just going out and trying to make something happen,” said Wise, who finished with six catches for 75 yards. “A lot of people said I pushed off, and I definitely did. It was a do-or-die situation, and I had to do what I had to do. We got the touchdown, and we were really confident going into the next drive. It just didn’t come out our way.”
After Rivera opened 1-for-10, Dixon struggled to contain the 6-foot-5 multi-sport athlete, and his favorite target Wise, in coverage before coming up with the answer on the final two plays.
“It was just a back and forth game,” added Cox. “I was just hoping our DBs would just step up, and they did.”
For Geneseo coach Larry Johnsen Jr., whose Leafs bow out at 5-5, it was a tough loss to take.
“Our kids have been really resilient,” he said. “They’ve had their backs against the wall a lot this year. I am just really proud of them the way they played.”
Geneseo ground it out for two 1-yard Zac Olson TD runs, one 15-yarder by Rivera and another 1-yard TD by Drew Rapps. Dixon jumped out early on Cox's first score from 43-yards out. And when he added a 50-yarder and a 19 yarder, the latter with 5:28 to go in the second quarter, it appeared the Dukes (9-1) were ready to roll.
But the Leafs marched 62 yards, scoring on Rapps’ 1-yard run with 49 seconds left, proving they simply would never go away.
It was that way the entire second half, as the Dukes would get up by more than one score only to see the Leafs answer.
But the Dukes had some other answers themselves, including the recovery by Jared Harrison of an onside kick late in the fourth after Wise’s TD.
“Credit goes to Dixon,” Johnsen said. “They’re a nice team. Offensively, they are really good. They create a lot of different problems for you. It just didn’t work out for us.”
He said Cox ranked up with the many good players the Leafs have seen this year, including Jirehl Brock of Quincy and several players from Sterling.
“He’s a good player,” Johnsen said. “He’s right up there with them, that’s for sure.
“Kudos to him, he was a really good player. He’s definitely one of the top ones we’ve seen. He was so strong. You couldn’t really get a good shot on him. Really elusive and quick.”