TOLAR – Tolar pulled away in the second half Friday night at Rattler Stadium for a 50-7 rout of Rice that not only made school history, but also clinched second place in district with one regular-season game to go.
“We’re in the playoffs for the first time in (Class) 2A history, and we’re going to go in as the No. 2 seed in the district and all the experts said we were going to finish fifth in the preseason,” Tolar head coach Mike Franklin said. “These kids are excited. They’ve worked hard and they’ve done a lot of stuff I don’t think people gave them a chance to do (in the preseason). We’ve got some kids that stepped up.”
Tolar’s last playoff appearance was in 2009, when the Rattlers won a district title while still in Class A.
Tolar (7-2, 5-1 in district) exploded for 628 yards in total offense, getting 155 yards and three touchdowns rushing from Cory Solomon. Quarterbacks Corbin Wood and Dakota Endsley combined for 212 yards passing.
Solomon now has 1,367 yards on the season, and has scored 17 TDs in district.
Franklin wasn’t yet sure of the all-time school record for individual rushing in a season, but said that the most since he took over as head coach in 2001 was by Ronnie Stewart. In 2003, Stewart’s senior year, he gained 1,391 yards on 187 carries, in 11 games for the Rattlers.
Rice fell to 2-4 in district and 3-6 overall.
The Rattlers closed out the game by scoring 37 unanswered points, including 21 in the third quarter to officially make it a blowout.
Meanwhile, Tolar’s defense clamped down on 235-pound Rice running back Ragan Henderson after intermission. Henderson rushed for a game-high 177 yards overall, but 121 of that was in the first half. The hard-running Henderson averaged 7.6 yards per carry in the first half, but only 4.1 in the second half.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Lee hinted that the Rattlers’ scheme was “tweaked” at halftime.
“We shut down the running game in the second half,” Franklin said. “They were running two plays that were killing us – plays our kids hadn’t seen. The kids just did what we asked them to do again.”
Endsley completed six of nine passes while throwing for one TD and running for another.
“Everybody is pretty pumped, as long as we keep winning,” Endsley said. “Everybody is pretty fired up about (making the playoffs).”
Endsley said the offensive line improved its performance in the second half.
“They got it done up front. That’s all it took,” Endsley said. “Obviously there were a lot of things we could have done better.”
“I think we played really good,” Tolar linebacker Zayne Gumler said. “We definitely stepped it up in the second half. I think we’re more of a second-half team.
“We can really kick it up in the second half. We’re a quick team and we just play hard. We’re a pretty aggressive defense.”
The Rattlers scored on their first three possessions before punting for the only time.
Solomon’s first two TD runs, from 12 and 11 yards out, were sandwiched around Endsley’s 14-yard scoring toss to Colt Arrington.
In between, the Bulldgs put together an 11-play, 89-yard TD drive to stay relatively close, pulling within 13-7 at the 10:19 mark in the second quarter.
Henderson’s 30-yard run, halted by a TD-saving tackle by Garrett Winston, gave the Bulldogs first-and-goal at the Tolar 4-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Dalton Pike kept on a 1-yard scoring run.
Zack Hasegawa opened and closed Tolar’s final scoring drive of the first half.
He hauled in a pass from Endsley and turned in a nifty run for a 40-yard completion, moving the Rattlers to the Rice 8-yard line.
Four snaps later, Hasegawa kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter that gave Tolar a 22-7 halftime advantage.
Solomon was off to the races for a 75-yard TD run on Tolar’s first play of the second half. He sprinted around right end and sailed untouched as the Rattlers built a 29-7 lead with 11:47 left in the third quarter.
Gumler made a tackle for a 5-yard loss when Rice went for it on fourth-and-2 at Tolar’s 30, turning the ball over to the Tolar offense.
The Rattlers struck quickly, with Wood connecting on a 50-yard pass to Grant Winston, then tossing a 10-yard TD strike to him on the next play as Tolar went on top 36-7.
Endsley’s 24-yard scoring run capped a 40-yard, five-play series for a 43-7 Tolar lead with 3:39 to go in the quarter.
B.J. Dollins completed the scoring with his 4-yard TD reception thrown by Wood with 11:55 remaining in the final quarter.
Franklkin said his team’s opponent – the team that takes the third-place spot in District 5-2A – will be either Jacksboro or Holliday, at a location yet to be determined.
“The sky’s the limit for them,” Franklin said of his Rattlers as they approach the postseason after this Friday’s district finale at Rio Vista. “We’re playing with confidence and we’re playing hard. I don’t think we’ll be scared of anybody. We’ll just do what we’ve been doing and keep working hard.”
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RATTLERS 50, BULLDOGS 7
Rice 0 7 0 0 – 7
Tolar 13 9 21 7 – 50
T – Cory Solomon 12 run (run failed)
T – Colt Arrington 14 pass from Dakota Endsley (Zack Hasegawa kick)
R – Dalton Pike 1 run (Junior Pena kick)
T – Solomon 11 run (pass failed)
T – Hasegawa 22 field goal
T – Solomon 75 run (Hasegawa kick)
T – Grant Winston 10 pass from Corbin Wood (Hasegawa kick)
T – Endsley 24 run (Hasegawa kick)
T – B.J. Dollins 4 run (Hasegawa kick)
First downs 11 22
Rushes-yards 40-162 38-416
Passing yards 48 212
Comp-att-int. 4-12-1 11-16-1
Punt-avg. 7-33 1-28
Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-1
Penalties-yards 5-40 3-30
Rice – Ragan Henderson 28-177, Angel Oropreza 4-5, Chris Atchley 4-4, Dalton Pike 4-(minus 24)
Tolar – Cory Solomon 10-155, Corbin Wood 5-61, B.J. Dollins 3-59, Alfredo Triana 5-48, Blayne Denton 6-36, Landon Morris 4-30, Dakota Endsley 4-21, Grant Winston 1-6.
Rice – Pike 4-12-1, 48 yards.
Tolar – Wood 5-6-1, 134 yards; Endsley 6-9-0, 78 yards; Zack Hasegawa 0-1-0.
Rice – Junior Pena 1-27, Noah McBryde 1-13, Codie Pair 1-8, Nathan Bowling 1-0.
Tolar – Grant Winston 5-148, Landon Morris 3-65, Zack Hasegawa 2-40, Colt Arrington 1-14, Jared Sparks 1-6.
Tolar interception – Hasegawa 1.