South Range overcomes Poland and Mother Nature
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — About 30 minutes before kickoff in Beaver Township, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” played over the speakers before the Bulldogs and Raiders took the field.
The 1970 hit from Creedence Clearwater Revival would prove to be foreboding, as a sizable storm interrupted play late in the first quarter before South Range went on to defeat Poland 24-21 at Raiders Stadium in a huge Northeast 8 opening-week matchup.
South Range coach Dan Yeagley was ecstatic following the victory.
“Oh my goodness, it’s awesome and you know what, our kids during this whole thing were together as a team.” he said. “We’re basically quarantined as a group, we knew we had to be clean and do things right and they did everything we asked.
“When it came down to game time, we had a couple of injuries and played a lot of young kids who stepped in and did an awesome job. Poland is a great team and a great program. We knew we had to play great football, so we gambled a few times. The wind didn’t help, the rain didn’t help, but (we) executed when we had to and that was huge.”
South Range junior Dylan Dominguez took off for a 17-yard touchdown run to put the Raiders up 6-0 before lighting struck and left the game in limbo prior to the PAT until play resumed at 8:25 p.m.
Once play resumed, a successful point after by senior Harley Novak made it 7-0.
Poland senior Peyton Mrakovich would strike early in the second quarter on a 49-yard touchdown run, and the game was knotted at 7-all following a good PAT by senior Jack Brant.
Like a boxing match, Raiders senior Michael Patrone punch right back with a 77-yard touchdown strike to put his team back on top at 14-7 .
During the second half, Mother Nature stepped in once again with a torrential downpour that made snapping the ball tricky and almost eliminated passing from the game.
What ensued was an old-fashioned, snot-nosed, defensive style of football game that would be more indicative of the 1950s than the 2020s, as neither team was able to find paydirt in the third quarter.
Dominguez talked about how difficult the conditions were.
“It definitely made it harder; I was fumbling the ball a little bit,” he said. “It definitely made it a lot more challenging.”
Poland senior Christian Colosimo found the end zone on a 4-yard run with 9:57 left in the game to tie the score, after the PAT, and mark the game’s first scoring play since 6:43 in the second quarter.
Dominguez jabbed right back with a 68-yard kickoff return to set up a 22 -yard keeper by Patrone on the first play of the Raiders’ following possession to give South Range a 21-14 lead.
Novak would land the finishing blow for South Range with 2:05 seconds left in the game on a 21-yard field goal to make it 24-14.
Patrone ended with 127 yards rushing on 15 attempts, while Dominguez had 77 yards on 18 attempts. Fulton led Poland with 81 yards on the ground, and he was followed by sophomore Bryce Barringer with 66 and Mrakovich with 60.
For Patrone, said it was a night to remember.
“I am so excited, this is the greatest game of my life,” he said. “First of all, the ball was wet, so it was kinda hard to throw and stuff, but me and Dylan got the ball, we just had to hold onto it, wipe our hands off everytime.”
Yeagley spoke highly of Dominguez and Patrone.
“Those two did a fantastic job,” he said. “They made plays when we had to and all the sudden they came down and tied it up, and a couple plays down, boom, boom we had a great kickoff return and a great touchdown run after that.
“We had a lot of people make big plays and our offensive line, we were bringing in new people right and left and they still made big plays when we needed to. Hats off to my assistant coaches because they got kids in and out and coached them up. We had that lighting delay, we coached them up, they did a great job in a short halftime, it was a phenomenal job by the assistant coaches.”
Dominguez sees the family aspect within his team.
“We got a lot of heart, I mean we’ve had this group since Little Raiders and we work well as a team and we don’t have fights without each, we just have a really good bond,” he said.
On the flip side, Poland takes the loss after losing a considerable amount of practice time in August due to COVID-19.
“I’m happy to be back out there again,” said Bulldogs coach Ryan Williams. “When you miss two weeks of double sessions, you’re just happy to be back out on the field.”
Williams saw some good things on the field, but also sees a lot that needs cleaned up.
“We were in pads for the first time last Thursday, so we’ve only been in pads for a week,” he said. “We got a ton to learn, we made a lot of mistakes, there was a lot of good to come out of this. I mean we’ve been in pads for eight days, so there’s a ton of mistakes we made, lots of things that we can fix and get better from.”
“But you have to move on and get to next week.”
The Bulldogs have their home opener next week against Niles McKinley, meanwhile South Range will hit the road and make the trip up to Girard.
“We’re going to come out just hitting next week,” Patrone said. “We’re ready, this was a big statement, nobody thought we were going to beat Poland, now we’re ready to go onto Girard and just show up and play.”