SPRINGTOWN – The Tolar’s Rattlers “turkey swag” attitude did the trick.
Now they can work on their “Santa swag.”
Running back Cory Solomon bulled his way across the goal line, dragging two defenders on a dramatic 17-yard touchdown run on fourth down in overtime to propel the Rattlers into the area round of the Class 2A Division II football playoffs with a 23-20 bidistrict triumph over Holliday Friday night at Porcupine Stadium.
Solomon ran for a game-high 219 yards on 27 carries. His impressive power surge at the end of his touchdown run gave him just enough to get the ball across the goal line in his outstretched hands as a third defender closed in on him.
District 6-2A runner-up Tolar (9-2) will take on District 7-2A champion Gunter (9-1) at 2 p.m. Friday at Chisholm Trail High School in Saginaw for the right to advance to the regional semifinal round.
Tolar head coach Mike Franklin had noted before the season began that the buzz among his players involved having a confident swagger that could help carry them into the postseason and continue playing beyond turkey time – Thanksgiving.
“That’s been our rallying cry since two-a-days,” Franklin said of the turkey swag. “After this week, we’re going to have to come up with a new one – Santa swag.”
Solomon is a quiet standout, but his impressive rushing totals – 1,692 yards in 11 games, believed to be an all-time school record for a single season – speak for themselves. After the game, with his overjoyed teammates still shouting and chanting in the locker room, the 5-10, 180-pound junior was convinced to speak briefly about the emotional victory.
“It was great,” Solomon said. “All I saw was bodies coming toward me. It was a big pile. It was good blocking, a good hole. It’s great. We made our turkey swag goal.”
Franklin said, “I was numb. I was just so excited. We knew it was all or nothing right there.”
Holliday (6-5) had taken the lead in OT on Hunter McCain’s 25-yard field goal, and Tolar was faced with fourth-and-2 when Solomon’s scoring run ended the game.
“I thought we physically beat them down,” Tolar defensive coordinator Gregg Lee said.
Holliday’s starting senior quarterback, Jacob Cole, suffered a calf injury in the first series and was sidelined the rest of the night. Junior Brennan Whitaker came in and threw for 158 yards and one TD.
“Tolar’s got a great team. The last play was a tough one,” said Holliday head coach Cody Patton.
Tolar capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive on its first possession with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Corbin Wood.
Tolar linebacker Justin Brown, who had missed several recent games with a knee injury, picked off a Holliday pass with 6:16 to go in the first quarter to halt an Eagle drive at the Rattlers’ 32-yard line.
The Eagles took the lead, 10-7, when Whitaker tossed a 16-yard TD pass to Andrew Edgin to the left side in the end zone with 11 minutes to go in the half.
Wood was back to punt late in the second quarter when the snap hit the up back and rolled toward Wood. He picked it up and threw a pass to Garrett Winston for a 16-yard gain and a first down.
Four snaps later Solomon uncorked a big 22-yard run and managed to get out of bounds with only five seconds left before intermssion. On the next play, Tolar’s B.J. Dollins kicked a 21-yard field goal to level the score at 10 at the half.
Franklin expressed his belief that the win could have a major carry-over effect for the Rattlers.
“This is a giant step for our program – moreso than just winning one game,” he said. “I feel like this is the kind of win that can change the mental outlook of the whole program.”
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RATTLERS 23, EAGLES 20 (OT)
Class 2A Division II bidistrict football
Tolar 7 3 7 0 6 — 23
Holliday 3 7 7 0 3 — 20
T – Corbin Wood 2 run (Zack Hasegawa kick)
H – Hunter McCain 33 field goal
H – Andrew Edgin 16 pass from Brennan Whitaker (McCain kick)
T – B.J. Dollins 21 field goal
T – Wood 4 run (Hasegawa kick)
H – Sam Shirley 8 run (McCain kick)
H – McCain 25 field goal
T – Cory Solomon 17 run (no attempt)
First downs 15 14
Rushes-yards 45-267 42-144
Passing yards 16 158
Comp-Att-int. 4-22-1 14-26-1
Punts-avg. 5-32.4 3-33.6
Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-41 4-40
Tolar – Cory Solomon 27-219, Corbin Wood 12-30, Dakota Endsley 2-13, Landon Morris 3-5, B.J. Dollins 1-2.
Holliday – Sam Shirley 21-99, Josh Robinett 7-19, Cameron Englishbee 13-18, Jacob Cole 1-8.
Tolar – Wood 2-8-0, 12 yards; Endsley 1-4-0, 9 yards; Morris 1-(minus 5).
Holliday – Whitaker 14-25-1, 158 yards; Jacob Cole 0-1-0.
Tolar – Garrett Winston 1-16, Cory Soloomon 1-10, Grant Winston 1-9, Zack Hasegawa 1-2, Wood 1-(minus 5).
Holliday – Beau Hadderton 4-48, Englishbee 5-46, Andrew Edgin 5-55, Shirley 4-36.
Tolar interception – Justin Brown.
Tolar fumble recovery – Landon Morris.