By BEN JOHNSON
Terrance Dixon is getting in touch with his political side.
Primed to begin his final season alongside Joel Rockmore, Dixon has had a message for his backfield mate the last couple of weeks.
"In the mornings we work out in here together," Dixon said, "and I always tell him jokingly, 'this is my last campaign.' That's what I've kind of termed it."
Indeed it is.
A mainstay as one of Northeastern State's running backs since 2011, Dixon, a 5-foot-10, 189-pound ball carrier, is hoping to end his RiverHawk career on a high note.
After all, he's now experienced almost a full gamut of events while in Tahlequah. He started off his tenure as the RiverHawks' leading rusher in 2011 as a true freshman, helping NSU land a berth in the Mineral Water Bowl. He then helped the RiverHawks usher in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association years, where he's served primarily as a backup to Rockmore during a stretch in which the RiverHawks have won only six games in 20 league games.
Yep, Dixon has been there done that with the RiverHawks.
"It's been fun," said Dixon, who became NSU's starting tailback and rushing leader with 720 yards on 188 carries after Rockmore went down with a knee injury in the second game of the 2013 season.
"I've seen some bad times, and now I'm definitely looking forward to the good times."
Dixon, a Sand Springs native, played in every game during the 2013 season, but even he succumbed to an injury — much like the rest of the RiverHawks' roster. Dixon suffered through a shoulder ailment during the latter half of the season, which gave way to Steven Hooper receiving more carries. All Hopper did was rush for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries against Southwest Baptist on Nov. 2.
Dixon chipped in with 79 yards and a touchdown against the Bearcats, and he also offered up some advice to Hopper.
"Just have to play hard," Dixon said. "And we tried to tell (Hopper) what we saw on the sidelines. We just told him what to look for and to 'hit it and go.'"
The trio of Rockmore, Dixon and Hopper will be back in 2014 when NSU opens its season at Pittsburg State on Sept. 6. In 2013, the RiverHawks were dealt a 45-6 loss by the Gorillas in the season opener.
This year, however, Dixon and Rockmore are hoping to test out their new touchdown dance in the season opener.
"It's a good little handshake, and we stole a little dance from Shady McCoy," Dixon said of LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles.
But the question remains: will the celebration draw a penalty flag?
"No, hopefully not," Dixon said. "We'll wait until we get on the sidelines and just do it amongst us."
Terrance Dixon has been a fixture in Northeastern State's backfield since 2011. Here's how he's fared in each of his past three seasons:
2011: Dixon played in 12 games as a true freshman and led the RiverHawks with a team-high 488 yards on 101 carries. He also scored two touchdowns for NSU, which ended its season at the Mineral Water Bowl.
2012: Taking snaps as NSU's starting running back in the RiverHawks' season-opening game against Pittsburg State, Dixon ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in a loss to the Gorillas. Dixon appeared in eight games during his sophomore season and was limited to 354 yards on 74 carries.
2013: A resurgence during his junior season saw Dixon lead the RiverHawks in rushing with 720 yards and 10 touchdowns on 188 carries. He played in all 11 of NSU's games, and started in eight of those.