By BRAD KEITH
DUBLIN (November 7, 2014) — While meeting with his team and giving his traditional post game speech Friday, Dublin head coach Bob Cervetto and his staff removed their jackets or sweat tops to show off their new T-shirts. They read simply: Dublin Lions, 2014 Playoffs.
That’s right, the 10-year drought is over. The Dublin Lions are post season bound.
Brady Holleman and Travis Blazi combined to rush for three second-half touchdowns and Abel Aguilar intercepted two Cub passes to lead the Lions past Clifton 31-19 at Memorial Stadium Friday, securing second-place in District 10-3A Division II.
“Isn’t this awesome,” exclaimed a beaming Cervetto between too many congratulatory hugs to count. “This is what we’ve been working for the last four years. This is it – this night, with these kids and coaches and this community. We’ve been building and building for it, and it’s finally here. It feels great.”
The Lions actually tied Jarrell for second but own the head-to-head tiebreaker, setting up a bi-district meeting with Corsican Mildred, the third-place finisher in District 9-3A Division II. Game time is 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Alvarado.
Before 2004, Dublin’s last playoff appearance came in 1994. It’s only playoff wins came in 1934 and 1964.
Dublin trailed 12-7 at the intermission, and inched closer with a field goal, a 19-yard chip shot by Isaac Campos, to cap its opening drive of the second half.
Clifton’s offense sputtered much of the second half, gaining just 30 total yards. The Cubs lost standout quarterback Zach Thomas just before halftime to a neck injury. He was taken by ambulance from the stadium to Texas Health Stephenville hospital. The Flash confirmed late Friday night that Thomas did not suffer a serious injury but is expected to be suffer soreness for several days.
The Cubs couldn’t move the ball on its opening possession of the half, and the Dublin offense drove right back down the field. There would be no settling for three this time, as Holleman broke free and scrambled 22 yards to pay dirt to give Dublin a lead it would never relinquish. He rushed for 140 yards – 94 of them in the third quarter – and passed for 106.
Aguilar’s picks ended Clifton’s next two possessions, and Blazi, who rushed for 126 yards, scored moments later each time on runs of 33 and 40 yards to open up a 31-12 lead.
“After I got mine, Travis told me, ’I’m gonna get me one,’” said Holleman. “Then he went and got two of them.
“This is awesome,” added the senior quarterback. “We didn’t want this to end yet, and this means that we get to do it all for another week.”
Clifton blocked a Dublin punt that led to a short TD run in the final minute, but by that time the celebration was already well under way on the home side of the field.
Dublin rushed for 299 yards including 214 in the second half, and had 384 yards of total offense.
Thomas began the scoring with a 97-yard keeper for Clifton. He rushed for 152 yards before being injured with just more than two minutes left in the first half. The Cubs had 257 yards at the intermission but finished with just 287.