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South Range stays unbeaten: Raiders hold off Poland to secure 5th win of year

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes South Range senior Dylan Dominguez looks back at the Poland defense while gaining big yards during the first half.

POLAND– A Northeast-8 football game between conference powerhouses South Range and Poland ended up giving fans their money’s worth.

Is anyone really surprised?

After trailing throughout a majority of the contest, the Bulldogs clawed and snarled their way back to earn themselves a tie midway though the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, as has been the case plenty of times this season, the Raiders offense, particularly the running attack, proved to be too potent, guiding South Range to a 42-34 road victory at Dave Pavlansky Field Friday evening.

It’s about just slugging the opponent in the mouth after you’ve been punched yourself, especially when the team you’re playing against comes back to tie the contest late.

“It came down to a couple plays, a couple crucial plays,” South Range coach Dan Yeagley said. “I’m just proud of our kids and how they stepped up and played, we got into some tough situations because of a couple of plays, a couple of turnovers, and that (Poland) onside kick, there’s some things going on that was just crazy.

“I’m proud of them (his team), I’m proud of what they did, and I’m proud of how they did respond. We faced some adversity, it was tied, everything was going crazy, and they overcame that adversity and I’m very proud of those kids.”

There’s plenty of big plays and smash mouth football from Friday night’s dual, but the moment that’ll resonate for a long time occurred late in the fourth during a 28 all tie, when Yeagley and his team decided to go for it on 4th and 2 on the 42-yard line.

Both teams on the field. Timeout Raiders. After a scan of the defense, it was time to pull a little trick out of their back pocket, one just installed this past week.

Three receivers to the left, quarterback Billy Skripac takes the snap with running back Dylan Dominguez by his side.

Skripac took the snap, rolled to his right with a barrage of Bulldog defenders ready to attack, and fired a pass downfield. Lost in the trenches and sneaking through the gang of linemen, Dominguez comes out of the play downfield wide open.

Floating in the air is the pass, finding Dominguez at the 20.

15, 10, 5, paydirt. All smiles and a regained lead for the road Raiders.

“We decided in the timeout huddle, we’re like are we going to run it, and then the coaches and all us were like let’s just do it, we got faith in everybody to pull it off,” Dominguez said about the trick play, almost at a loss for words following the contest. “I don’t know, it was crazy.

“I just have faith in everybody, we work really hard and I just love everybody on my team.”

Having an early 14-0 edge following the conclusion of the first quarter, it looked like the Raiders were going to have yet again another offensive explosion. While true, Poland wasn’t one to go swinging.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Poland senior Jack Fulton (right) bats down a Raiders pass late in the second quarter.

Down 21-7 following a Skripac touchdown run right before halftime, the Bulldogs (2-3) went to work chipping away, a 22-yard touchdown reception by senior Dom Parker cutting the lead to 7 midway though the third.

Like an entertaining boxing match, Dominguez and his team answered moments later, scoring from 3-yards out. But toward the end of the third, Poland quarterback Jack Fulton scored, again pulling his team within a single possession.

Following a successful onside kick, the Bulldogs once again drove downfield, capped off by an 8-yard keeper by Fulton, knotting the contest up at 28 points a piece.

For the first time in a while, South Range (5-0) found their backs against a wall following four wins by 19 points or more.

“Our offensive line, how hard they work day in and day out, just me executing my passes, just the few posts I threw today, just everything coming together and having a good offense,” said Skripac. “We knew going into the game that it was going to be a four quarter game, a close game, and we knew that we had to respond somehow.”

Poland ran 74 plays versus South Range’s 51, held a slight edge of total yards of 354-358. Skripac went 8-13 passing, for 154 yards and a score, while rushing 13 times for 66 yards and two scores.

Dominguez concluded his evening with 120 yards rushing on 16 attempts, with two trips to the endzone, and 54 yards receiving with a score. Fulton threw 9-18 with 124 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 149 yards on 30 carries and a trio of scores.

Senior Gavin Wess led the Bulldogs for 55 yards receiving, along with a 37-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. South Range junior Bailey Ryan tallied the only two sacks of the evening.

Despite the loss, Poland coach Tom Pavlansky remained upbeat with the effort his boys brought against a skilled Raiders team.

“It’s safe to say we’re battle tested, and our seniors have been in a lot of ball games their entire career,” Pavlansky said. “I think they know that a deficit of 14-0 in the first quarter, there’s a lot of football left to be played, and just really proud of those guys and we gave ourselves a chance just taking it one play at a time.

“South Range is a really good football team and now we just have to get back and try to get better.”

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