Late safety dooms Lions in narrow loss to Tolar

Dublin quarterback Josh Hanes looks to deliver a pass during a 40-38 loss to Tolar Friday at Memorial Stadium, || The Flash Today/RUSSELL HUFFMAN

Flash Staff Report

DUBLIN (October 27, 2017) — Dublin snatched defeat right out of the jaws of victory Friday, when a snap over the punter’s head resulted in him being taken down int he end zone for a Tolar safety and 30-28 Rattler victory over the Lions at Memorial Stadium.

Tolar had already survived seven fumbles, recovering six of them, and the Rattler’s had survived the momentum of the Lions when the Dublin defense gave its offense one final possession after Josh Hanes hit Billy Mercer with a 27-yard touchdown pass then ran in the two-point conversion himself to tie the game at 28-28.

Even when they went nowhere, all Dublin had to do was put the ball safely away and with stand the possible punt return and the few offensive snaps that would have followed to force overtime in a back and fourth thriller that saw Tolar kept moving a touchdown ahead and Dublin answering every time.

Until the end, when the safety, by rule, forced Dublin to kick the ball back to Tolar, allowing the Rattlers to run out the clock.

Th end doesn’ t change how Dublin turned some heads, and as it turns out, only affects whether Dublin would be playing for the three seed or only to be the four seed when the Lions face Coleman next week.

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Riding quarterback josh Hanes all night – all season – offensively, the Lons answered every time Tolar scored. Hanes was 18-28 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 65 yards, two more than the actual team total. He literally had a hand in 327 of 325 total yards of offense.

The first of two Hanes to Blake Porter TD strikes covered 57 yards and pulled Dublin even at  7-7 in the second minute of the second quarter.The second Dublin response was a 21-yard Jacob Stanley TD scamper for a 14-14 tie barely three minutes into the second half.

The reason it was that close was the Dublin defense, which stepped up its game considerably, in spite of its seeming refusal to pick up Tolar fumbles. But the Lions did make a big stand just before intermission to stay within a possession before Staley tied it.

Tolar grabbed the lead almost six minutes later on an eight-yard run, the second of three Rattler rushing scores.

Dublin answered in the blink of an eye – it actually took 28 seconds – with the second Hanes-to-Porter TD. Porter finished with 97 yards on six receptions.

The PAT was no good, allowing Tolar to retain a one-point edge while driving to the precipice of the end zone to finish the third. The Rattlers broke through from the one on the opening pay of the fourth quarter, and it was 28-20.

There was an exchange of of possessions with no change, except to the clock, on the scoreboard. But with time becoming an issue, Hanes stepped up to the challenge once more. It was Mercer time again, and with the TD bringing the Lions within  two, head coach Bob Cervetto and offensive coordinator Greg Hardcastle  made sure the ball stayed in the hands of Hanes – their leading rusher as well as passer on the season – for the tying conversion.

Following a defensive stop, it seemed for a second like the Lions may have enough momentum to repeat their comeback at Breckenridge earlier this season, when they scored twice in the fourth quarter for a 27-24 upset of the Buckaroos.

But the last possession went nowhere until traveling painfully backward with the long snap that spelled defeat.

What was readily apparent all night,thought, is Dublin is not headed backward. Just the opposite, in fact.

The Lions, after hanging with Tolar, and having pushed Cisco at times in their district opener, may very well come out as the favorite against Coleman next week when it’s winner take all as far as the fourth playoff spot from District 4-3A Division II

Beating Bangs in week 10 won’t matter for the Lions, at least not as far as the post season goes. Because the first tie-breaker is head-to-head, whoever wins next Friday takes that last playoff spot regardless what happens the following week.


Lion leaders:

Stanley had five receptions for 83 yards and a score, Mercer four for 5 3 and tying TD and Hanes was the leading rusher the Lions. The one Tolar fumble Dublin did grab was returned 29 yards by Aldo Herrera, and Gabriel Renteria did well when the ball wasn’t snapped over his head, punting four times for a 37-yard average.

Comparing the offenses:

The Rattlers were as advertised on the ground with 324 yards, and added another 117 through the air on a 441 yard night. In addition to Hanes’ 262 passing yards, the Lions had 63 rushing yards, which means negative two when someone not named Hanes toted the mail. Dublin traversed 325 total yards.

Penalties and fumbles:

Tolar overcame 12 penalties for 125 yards while Dublin committed eight for 75. But the biggest head scratcher was how the Rattlers overcame putting fumbles on the ground seven times and somehow coming up sit six of them.

-Flash reporters Russell Huffman, Brad Keith and statistician Marshall Copeland each contributed to this report. photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

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