Falcons top Kelso 38-22 to remain unbeaten
BATTLE GROUND — The Prairie Falcons are heading into the future, but thinking of history.
Prairie improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1984, holding off Kelso 38-22 on Friday night in front of a packed home crowd just thrilled to be supporting a winning program.
“That was more than just a game,” linebacker Isaiah Braker said. “It was for the community. That really gave us the drive.”
Dustin Shelby rushed for 134 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run, and quarterback A.J. Dixson rushed for 161 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown run with 3:24 to play in the game to pretty much secure the victory.
Interestingly, the Falcons figured they would have sealed the deal long before then, but the Hilanders rallied from a 30-7 halftime deficit to make it an eight-point game in the fourth quarter.
For now, the Falcons don’t care how they did it. They just know they did it, improving to 5-0.
“It’s really special,” Dixson said. “It just shows how we have changed the culture at Prairie. It’s really cool to say we’re the first Prairie team since 1984 to go 5-0.”
If they go to 6-0, they will in all likelihood be called Class 3A Greater St. Helens League champions, too, by the end of the season.
Prairie hosts defending league champion Mountain View next week. The Falcons have never been 6-0.
Oh, but to be in that position, the Falcons had to stop a proud, traditional winning program.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been 5-0, and it’s been a long time since we beat Kelso,” Prairie coach Mike Peck said. “Just to come out and find a way to get that W. I’m so happy for these kids, so happy for this community. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Normally, his coaches get 24 hours to celebrate a victory. However, next week’s Mountain View game is on Thursday. Peck said he and his coaches will be back at it Saturday morning.
The players, though? They get that 24 hours.
“These kids, I want them to enjoy this one,” Peck said. “A lot of hard work put in by these kids. I want them to enjoy this. It’s been a long time coming. They deserve this.”
The Falcons opened the game on quite the mission, opening up a 30-7 lead at the half.
Statistically, it wasn’t even that close.
At the half, Prairie had 340 yards of offense, while Kelso had 47.
This was a blowout.
Until it wasn’t. Until Kelso remembered its winning tradition.
The Hilanders scored on the first drive of the second half to serve notice.
And early in the fourth quarter, they got tricky, with a hook-and-ladder. Josh Webb covered the final 65 yards of the 69-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion made it 30-22.
And when Prairie turned it over on its next possession, the Kelso Hilanders had the ball with a chance to tie.
The Prairie defense was up to the challenge, though, with a three-and-out. Devante Clayton had a big tackle-for-loss, and Kelso ended up punting the ball back to Prairie, still with plenty of time on the clock.
Dixson, though, made sure there would be no comeback victory for the visitors. He improvised on his way to the 53-yard touchdown run.
“It was a broken play,” the quarterback acknowledged. “I just used my dual-threat instincts to get to the outside. No one had an angle on me, and I high-stepped into the end zone.”
“It was an incredible play by him,” Peck said. “He’s having an MVP-type season. It continued tonight.”
Kelso would have to score on its next possession to make it interesting again. Braker had a sack, one of several tackles-for-loss he had on the night, and the Hilanders had nothing left in the tank.
“I was not really worried,” Braker said, even when Kelso had the ball down eight points. “I trusted everybody else on the defense that they were going to do their job. I knew we would get our stuff together.”
Treyce Teague made his presence known on defense all night, as well, for the Falcons. He said it was all about film work, being prepared.
The defense held Kelso to 47 yards in that first half. Yes, the score got close, but the players on the field still felt comfortable.
“We weren’t scared at all. We just had to keep our composure,” Teague said. “It was all about execution and composure.”
Clayton had a 3-yard touchdown run to open the scoring for the Falcons in the first quarter. Dixson’s 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter made it 14-0.
Kelso got a strange touchdown on a punt return. The Falcons thought they had downed the ball. Instead, the ball was live, so Colby Cooper picked it up and returned it 57 yards for the easiest touchdown of his life.
No problem for the Falcons. Shelby broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage. The 2-point conversion made it 22-7.
After a Kelso punt, Prairie had another one-play drive: Clayton took a backward pass from Dixson, then threw to a wide-open Ian Davis for a 40-yard touchdown. The Falcons added the 2-pointer for the 30-7 lead at the half.
The Falcons were on their way to 5-0.
The scoreboard certainly changed a bit in that second half, but the final result remained.
And the Prairie Falcons remain undefeated.
PRAIRIE 38, KELSO 22
Kelso 0 7 7 8 — 22
Prairie 8 22 0 8 — 38
P — Devante Clayton 3 run (Ian Davis pass from A.J. Dixson)
P — A.J. Dixson 1 run (pass failed)
K — Colby Cooper 57 punt return (Kevin Aguilar kick)
P — Dustin Shelby 80 run (Zeke Dixson pass from A.J. Dixson)
P — Davis 40 pass from Clayton (Treyce Teague pass from A.J. Dixson)
K — Conner Noah 2 run (Aguilar kick)
K — Josh Webb covers final 65 yards on 69 pass from Coleman to Tanner Davis to Webb (Coleman kick)
P — A.J. Dixson 53 run (Shelby run)
RUSHING: Kelso — Josh Webb 12-22, Noah 5-16, Marshall Coleman 7-1. Prairie — Shelby 11-134, Clayton 7-32, A.J. Dixson 16-161, Zeke Dixson 1-3, Teague 1-1.
PASSING: Kelso — Coleman 4-13-0-110. Prairie — A.J. Dixson 15-26-0-174. Clayton 1-1-0-40.
RECEIVING: Kelso — Dillon Davis 1-9, Tanner Davis 1-28, Nick Miller 1-4, Teagan Connors 1-4, Webb 0-65. Prairie — Shelby 2-36, Zeke Dixson 3-18, Jimmie Barton 6-99, Davis 3-55, Clayton 1-8, Nicholas Lawhead 1-(minus 2).
Camas 65, Heritage 7
Skyview 63, Battle Ground 14
Mountain View 42, Hudson’s Bay 0
Rainier 42, Fort Vancouver 0
Ridgefield 24, Washougal 21
Columbia River 28, Mark Morris 21
Hockinson 41, Woodland 0
La Center 38, King’s Way Christian 21
Stevenson 21, Seton Catholic 14