RIO VISTA – The Tolar football team didn’t have to win Friday night against Rio Vista, but their comeback 38-14 triumph to close out the regular season may have given them an added boost entering their bidistrict playoff game.
Rio Vista’s only chance to make the playoffs was to beat the Rattlers, and the Bulldogs grabbed a 14-6 lead midway through the opening quarter.
But Tolar (8-2, 6-1 in 6-2A Division II) rallied with three second-quarter touchdowns to close out the first half with a 26-14 lead, and added two more in the third quarter to keep their momentum going as they get set to take on Holliday (6-4), the District 5-2A Division II third-place team Friday at 7 p.m. in Springtown.
The Rattlers racked up 462 yards in total offense, getting 139 yards and two TDs rushing from Cory Solomon.
Quarterbacks Corbin Wood, the starter, and Dakota Endsley, combined for 246 yards passing. Wood threw for a pair of scores, ran for a TD and added a two-point conversion run. Endsley threw for a game-high 134 yards, including a 39-yard TD toss.
“We knew they were going to come out and hit us in the mouth,” Wood said. “That’s happened all year, and we’re always the little guys. It’s what we do as a team.”
Tolar head coach Mike Franklin said, “Our kids stepped up, like they have all year. The three drives to end the first half, especially the final one, that was big. Give (Rio Vista) credit. They played hard. It was fun to watch us execute like that. We took a shot in the mouth, and responded to it, and it was something we needed to do. I’m glad we had a game like this. The kids had to fight, and I think that’s going to help us.”
Tolar defensive coordinator Gregg Lee added about the early deficit, “We made some mental mistakes. We gave them one, and they earned the other one.
“The goal-line stand was huge. After that our offense started clicking even more, and that was the ballgame.”
Wood pulled the Rattlers to within 14-12 with his 22-yard TD run with six minutes left in the half.
Conner Robinson of Tolar recovered a Rio Vista fumble at the Rattlers’ 36-yard line to end the Bulldogs’ threat on their next series. Garrett Winston’s 36-yard reception from Endsley and his 22-yard connection with Alfredo Triana set up Solomon’s 3-yard TD run as Tolar regained the lead, 18-14, at the 1:54 mark in the half.
After Tolar forced a punt, the Rattlers moved 76 yards in 10 snaps, with Wood flipping a 27-yard TD pass to Zach Hasegawa as time expired in the half. Wood carried for a 2-point conversion.
Rio Vista (4-6, 3-4) recovered a Tolar fumble on the Rattlers’ first possession of the second half to put them in business at Tolar’s 27-yard line. The Bulldogs pushed to Tolar’s 10, but Rattler B.J. Dollins intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line and returned it 32.
Tolar then drove 63 yards in seven plays, with Endsley hitting Garrett Winston for a 39-yard TD pass as the Rattlers gained a 32-14 lead with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
Rio Vista turned the ball over on downs on its next possession at its own 38, and Wood led Tolar to the end zone once more, passing to Grant Winston for a 25-yard TD.
The goal-line stand came on Rio Vista’s next possession as the Bulldogs moved from the Tolar 49 after the kickoff to the Rattler 2-yard line. On the next snap, Rodie Brister tackled Ryan Jimison for a 5-yard lost to halt the drive.
HOLLIDAY FORMIDABLE FOE
Holliday is 6-4, but the Eagles’ two district losses were by a total of only two points. The Eagles also lost a nondistrict game against Class 3A Vernon by just three points on a last-minute field goal.
Jacob Cole is Holliday’s quarterback and top rusher with 932 yards and 11 TDs. He has thrown for 757 yards and 8 TDs.
But he’s not their only running threat, as Sam Shirley has 503 yards and 13 TDs.
Receivers Andrew Edgin and Beau Hadderton have combined for 785 yards and seven TDs. Cameron English had been considered the team’s best receiver but is just back from an injury and has just 218 yards on 18 receptions.
Shirley is also a force at linebacker with a team-best 150 tackles, and lineman Chris Calhoun has a team-leading eight quarterback sacks.
For Tolar, Solomon has enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history with 1,473 yards and 22 rushing TDs on the season. He is nicely complemented by a 1-2 quarterback combination of Wood (767 yards passing, 11 TDs) and Endsley (698 yards, 3 TDs).
The Tolar defense is equally balanced, led by linebacker Colt Arrlington, who has 71 tackles.
The Rattlers have thrived on turnovers this season with 32 takeaways (18 fumbles, 14 interceptions) opposite just 14 turnovers (6 fumbles, 8 interceptions).
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RATTLERS 38, BULLDOGS 14
Tolar 6 20 12 0 – 38
Rio Vista 14 0 0 0 – 14
T – Cory Solomon 68 run (kick failed)
RV – Chase Hailey 73 pass from Nick Russell (Joseph Chavez kick)
RV – Sean Worlow 38 run (Chavez kick)
T – Corbin Wood 22 run (run failed)
T – Solomon 3 run (run failed)
T – Zack Hasegawa 27 pass from Wood (Wood run)
T – Garrett Winston 39 pass from Dakota Endsley (kick failed)
T – Grant Winston 25 pass from Wood (run failed)
Tolar Rio Vista
First downs 23 11
Rushes-yards 28-216 32-122
Passing yards 256 122
Comp-att-int. 16-32-0 5-12-1
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-64 7-47
Tolar – Cory Solomon 20-139, Corbin Wood 7-49, Dakota Endsley 2-15, Grant Winston 1-10, B.J. Dollins 3-9, Landon Morris 2-4.
Rio Vista – Sean Worlow 2-49, Jacob Strickland 9-28, Nick Russell 8-26, Ryan Jimison 13-19.
Tolar – Dakota Endsley 8-14-0, 134 yards; Wood 9-19-0, 122 yards.
Rio Vista – Russell 4-7-1, 116 yards; Jimison 1-5-0, 6 yards.
Tolar – Garrett Winston 3-74, Zack Hasegawa 4-56, Grant Winston 4-51, Jared Sparks 2-23, Alfredo Triana 1-22, Landon Morris 1-12, Rodie Brister 1-12.
Rio Vista – Chase Hailey 1-73, Jimison 2-26, Tyler Crowe 1-17, Dylan Nelson 1-6.
Tolar interception – B.J. Dollins
Tolar fumble recovery – Conner Robinson.