MIDLOTHIAN — As the clock at Multi-Purpose Stadium ticked down to zeroes Friday, most of the Lake Dallas Falcons collapsed to the ground in disbelief as Waco celebrated Benjamin Diaz’s game-winning 38-yard field goal in a 24-21 playoff decision.
The Falcons nearly pulled off a comeback, but Diaz’s kick with strong wind gusts at his back sent the Lions into the regional round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
After the Lions took a 21-14 lead by forcing two straight Falcon fumbles, including one at the 7-yard line on a punt return, Waco forced Lake Dallas quarterback Marshall Dominy into a turnover and returned the ball to the Falcons’ 20.
The Falcons (7-5) could have dropped their shoulders and surrendered the game-clinching touchdown, but their defense came up with its third takeaway when quarterback Traynham Moore fumbled into the end zone and defensive back Josh Jackson returned it to the Lake Dallas 48.
Lake Dallas coach Michael Young spoke about his team’s mental toughness in the waning moments.
“We talked about it before we came in here,” Young said. “We’ve done it a couple times with times as bad as they could absolutely look. It looked bad with the ball on the 3-yard line and them up by seven. We kept grinding and battling to make a play. That’s what I’m proud of this group for. They understand that it could have been really easy for somebody in our position there for them to walk in.”
The Falcons later converted on fourth down with 36 seconds remaining with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dominy — who was 17-of-28 for 167 yards passing along with 60 yards rushing — to Jackson in the left corner of the end zone.
“We felt good about it, but they played good defense and we had to make several plays,” Young said. “If it would have been an easier march in and if we could have run the ball easier, I would have thought about going for two points there because we had to scratch and claw to stop them.”
The Falcons dreams of overtime were quickly squashed as Adrian Norwood returned the high kickoff to the Lake Dallas 32-yard line.
Young said that the kickoff team showed some confusion because it expected Waco to call for a fair catch.
“The kick was perfect and he [kicker Logan Stewart] did exactly what we wanted,” Young said. “I was shocked and I think our kick team was shocked when they didn’t fair-catch the ball. They had some confusion there, and that’s really a killer on kickoff and punt coverage. It looked like we had him down, but people got out of their lane and he was able to get up the sideline. We had four people get ahold of him and he got loose. If we get them down there, they probably just run the clock out and we go to overtime.”
Waco running back Christian Simms led the offense with 168 yards on 30 carries, with Moore throwing for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
The third quarter was the only scoreless quarter, as each team exchanged punts with their offenses not wanting to make crucial mistakes.
“The third quarter was the big quarter,” Young said. “No one scored, but we had the wind at our back. We had the ball a couple times inside the 50 and didn’t get any points. That’s what really hurt us in the end. We needed to win the third quarter and we didn’t do it, so it puts you in a real bind to have to win the fourth quarter with the wind in the face.”
The Waco defensive pressure began to mount in the fourth quarter, and the timing for Lake Dallas’ three turnovers couldn’t have been worse. The Falcons were primed to take the lead midway through the fourth after Dominy’s 32-yard scamper gave the Falcons the ball at the Waco 36-yard line. However, on the next play, linebacker Byron Evans tracked down Dominy, who was rolling out to his left, and forced him into a fumble that was recovered by Waco lineman Stephan White at the 43.
“Our thing that was really working was our empty formation, but what you get with that, though, is if they bring the house on you, you are going to have problems, and that’s what we had there when Marshall got sacked and they knocked the ball loose,” Young said. “He had the right read and I thought we picked up the blitz decent, but I thought the wind was a factor holding the ball up.”
The Falcons started the game with solid field position thanks to a 56-yard kick return by Ty Boggs to the Waco 37. Five plays later, Dominy found receiver Brandon Simpson for a 19-yard gain. Simpson then took a handoff from Dominy for a 4-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 7-0.
Waco used a short punt by Dominy that was curtailed by the furious winds to set up a 43-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Daron Jefferson down the left sideline to tie the game at 7 with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter.
The Falcons drove to the Waco 25 but turned the ball over on downs. On the Lions’ ensuing possession, with Waco just outside the red zone, defensive back Josh Jackson made the first of his two first-half interceptions at the 17.
Four plays later, the Falcons delivered a well-timed trick play as Simpson took the snap and lateralled to Dominy, who found tight end Josiah Tauaefa down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown.
Waco answered Lake Dallas’ score with one of its own as it used an 11-play drive to tie the game at 14. Ricky Williamson ran in a 5-yard touchdown with 8:09 remaining in the first half. Waco threatened to add more points before halftime, but Moore’s Hail Mary was picked off by Jackson to end the half.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Waco 24, Lake Dallas 21
Waco 7 7 0 10 — 24
Lake Dallas 7 7 0 7 — 21
L — Brandon Simpson 4 run (Logan Stewart Kick) 9:04
W — Daron Jefferson 43 pass from Traynham Moore (Benjamin Diaz kick) 5:58
L — Josiah Tauaefa pass from Marshall Dominy (Stewart kick) 11:48
W — Ricky Williamson 5 run (Diaz kick) 8:09
W — Moore 1 run (Diaz kick) 6:43
L — Josh Jackson 14 pass from Dominy (Stewart kick) :36
W — Diaz 38 field goal, :00
First Downs 14 15
Rushes-yards 41-158 42-192
Passing yards 167 156
Total yards 325 348
Passing 17-28 12-22
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-1
Punts-avg. 5-46.8 6-39.0
Penalties-yards 1-5 4-30
Rushing — LD: Marshall Dominy 17-60, Tony Green 12-25, Brandon Simpson 9-53, Colton Lively 1-2 , Ty Boggs 1-2, Josh Jackson 1-16. W – Christian Simms 30-168, Traynham Moore 5-0, Ricky Williamson 5-17, Michael Branch 2-7.
Passing — LD: Marshall Dominy 17-28-167-1. W: Traynham Moore 12-22-156-2
Receiving — LD: Bryce Williams 5-44, Josh Jackson 2-32, Bryce Williams 7-50, Josiah Tauaefa 2-38, C.J. Harris 1-6. W: Daron Jefferson 1-43, Trey Boggess 6-49, Michael Branch 2-28, Myron Hills 1-13, Christian Simms 1-14, Ricky Williamson 1-9.