RICE – The Tolar Rattlers may not have played their best football Friday night, but it was good enough to beat Rice and clinch a playoff spot.
Behind 467 yards of total offense, the Rattlers defeated the Bulldogs 38-17 to advance to the Class 2A Division II playoffs. The victory clinched at least second place in the district.
Tolar (7-2, 5-1 in district) still has a chance to finish tied for first place with 6-0 Scurry-Rosser and 5-1 Mildred. That will happen if Mildred can beat Scurry-Rosser by at least 15 points when they play Friday – and if Tolar defeats district doormat Rio Vista at home.
In the event of a three-way tie, coaches will have a meeting to decide the playoff seedings.
If Tolar finishes second in the district, the Rattlers will take on the loser of this Friday’s District 5-2A game between Henrietta (5-4, 3-1) and Nocona (6-3, 3-1) in the bidistrict playoff round.
“We’re excited. It’s good to be back in (the playoffs) again,” Tolar head coach Mike Franklin said.
Running back Cory Solomon scored three touchdowns for the Rattlers and led all rushers with 167 yards on 14 carries. With 1,084 yards, he topped the 1,000-yard mark for a third straight season.
Franklin wasn’t thrilled about the way his team reacted after it had gained a 31-10 halftime lead, and showed it when he pulled some players out of the game.
“We were sloppy at times,” Franklin said, describing what he saw. “We jumped out on them early. I think we got a little sloppy and lazy. Their kids played very hard.”
But Franklin added, “I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”
Tolar quarterback Corbin Wood threw for 119 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass to Dalton Shaw.
Rodie Brister, who played well on defense and also completed a 43-yard pass to Dakota Endsley, said he thought the Rattlers played well as a team.
“It’s always exciting to go to the playoffs, especially making it back for the second year in a row,” Brister said. “We’re pretty excited. We’re fired up and ready to go win a playoff game and then go win the next game.”
Brister said they “were not underestimating them. We were staying focused, and doing what we do best.”
Tolar’s Gordon Lewis got the first of his two fumble recoveries on the night, setting up Tolar’s first score. After runs of 36 and 6 yards by Solomon, the Rattlers finished off the drive as Solomon found the end zone from 4 yards out with 9:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Rice had a big play, as well, setting the stage for its first TD as Adan Payne run 65 yards, followed by a 4-yard score by Chris Atchley. That knotted the score at 7 at the 9:34 mark in the opening quarter.
But Tolar’s offense went on to score on its first five possessions from scrimmage on the way to a 31-10 halftime lead. During that stretch, the Rattlers lost the ball on a fumbled punt late in the second quarter, giving the Bulldogs the ball with a first down at Tolar’s 19-yard line and setting up a 34-yard field goal that cut Tolar’s edge to 23-10 with 2:14 left in the half. It was only the second fumble Tolar has lost all season.
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Rattlers 38, Bulldogs 17
Tolar 17 14 0 7 – 38
Rice 7 3 7 0 – 17
T – Cory Solomon 4 run (Garrett Winston kick)
R – Chris Atchley 4 run (Jesus Garcia kick)
T – Corbin Wood 27 run (Winston kick)
T – Winston 28 field goal
T – Solomon 64 run (run failed)
R – Garcia 34 field goal
T – Solomon 13 run (Heston Buckelew pass from Dakota Endsley)
R – Austin Peppers 15 run (Garcia kick)
T – Dalton Shaw 25 pass from Wood (Winston kick)
First downs 19 8
Rushes-yards 39-305 34-130
Passing yards 162 83
Passes 13-29-0 2-8-1
Punts-avg. 1-28 3-34.3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-3
Penalties-yards 7-80 8-48
Tolar – Cory Solomon 14-167, Corbin Wood 10-59, Marcus Garcia 11-23, Blayne Denton 2-11, Garrett Winston 2-5.
Rice – Adan Payne 3-65, Chris Atchley 15-36, Austin Peppers 12-25, Angel Oropeza 3-9, Dylynn Anderson 1-(minus 5).
Tolar – Wood 12-27-0, 119 yards; Rodie Brister 1-1-0, 43 yards; Dakota Endsley 0-1-0.
Rice – Peppers 2-7-1, 83 yards; Anderson 0-1-0.
Tolar – Dalton Shaw 4-66, Conner Robinson 5-48, Endsley 1-43; Kaleb Gilliam 1-5, Winston 1-4, Walker Shelton 1-4.
Rice – Daniel Arteaga 2-83.