The Dickinson Gators muzzled a high powered Alief Taylor offense and staked their claim in Division I Region III with a 35-21 first round victory Saturday night at Crump Stadium. Alief Taylor scored fourteen points to start the game before Dickinson even had its first possession, but the Gators defense turned things around and limited the Lions offense to only seven points in the final three quarters.
Alief Taylor lit up the stat sheet with 372 total yards of offense, but their unwillingness to punt the ball on fourth and long rendered the battle for field position a losing effort. The Lions had no trouble reaching the Gators side of the field, but could not put enough plays together to keep up with Dickinson on the scoreboard. Alief Taylor quarter back Dontay Warren racked up 240 yards through the air, but his most impactful throw found its way into the hands of a Gators defender. Coming through with the unquestioned play of the night was Gators defensive back Marques Williams. With the Gators trying to preserve a seven-point fourth quarter lead and the Lions threatening in the red zone, Williams intercepted a Warren pass and returned it 96 yards for the game’s deciding touchdown. Dickinson head coach John Snelson believes Williams is one of his best defensive playmakers.
“He’s right up at the top” Coach Snelson said of Williams as he attempted to rank his defensive stars. “We have so many good football players on defense. Marques has come so far; he’s always been a talented young man. He’s made it his goal to get in the best shape he possibly can and he has just played great for us all season long. And man, what a big, big play that was. Wow.”
Joining Williams as Dickinson defensive standouts wreaking havoc on third and fourth downs were Tyrese Wydermyer, Joseph Shields and Trevor Harmanson. Harmanson’s blocked punt set the Gators up to take their first lead of the game in the third quarter.
Dickinson was without starting senior quarter back Jordan Grigg, who was sidelined with an injury. Taking snaps instead was the dynamic Montel Parker. Despite being new to the position, Parker has earned the confidence of Coach Snelson.
“Montel just keeps getting better every week” Coach Snelson said of his wide receiver turned quarterback. “He’s a tremendous athlete and we believe in him. He gives us a chance by being a dual threat. His passing is getting much better and I’m really proud of his composure tonight.”
Parker was not asked to throw much, but he proved to be a dependable passer when his coach needed him. Parker completed five of thirteen passes for 85 yards and delivered two touchdowns to tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Taking most of the pressure off Parker was running back Myles Lewis. Lewis bolted for 147 yards rushing and scored two pivotal Gators touchdowns.
Alief Taylor looked to be the superior team in all facets of the game in the first quarter. With athleticism evenly dispersed all over the field, the Lions quickly jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter. A mishandled Gators attempt to return a squib kick following the Lions first score gave Alief Taylor back-to-back drives to start the game. Both drives resulted in touchdowns and buried Dickinson in an immediate two-score hole. But the Gators were able to climb themselves out thanks to versatile players on offense and stout red zone defense. After the first quarter, Dickinson scored 21 unanswered points and held Alief Taylor to just seven points in the remaining three quarters. Marques Williams’ 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was the decisive play and handed Alief Taylor a 35-21 loss, ending the Lions season.
Dickinson improves to 10-1 overall and advances to the Area Round of Division I Region III to face 10-1 North Shore Friday, November 18 in Dickinson.