DALLAS - The Lebanon Warriors faced a tough decision on a fourth and 4 midway through the fourth quarter Friday night at Dallas.
Lebanon trailed 20-15 and a drive had stalled at the Warriors’ 44-yard line. The team lined up in punt formation, but head coach Ty Tomlin liked what he saw in the Dragons’ formation. He gave the signal for the fake and junior Dane Sipos, who was aligned as a blocker in the backfield, took the short snap and scampered 43 yards for a first down.
“We had planned that before for this game,” Sipos said. “We knew that we would set up the punt and see if we had the outside. If we had the outside, then we’d do our fake punt to me and we’d try to get some yards on it.”
That was one of several key plays the Warriors made down the stretch in a 28-20 Mid-Willamette Conference victory over the Dragons. On that same drive, the Warriors faced third and 13 at the 26-yard line when quarterback Cole Weber found Sipos deep over the middle for a 24-yard gain.
Brock Barrett punched the ball over the line for a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Warriors a 21-20 advantage. Lebanon went for the 2-point conversion, but it failed.
Dallas took the ensuing kickoff and drove to midfield. Lebanon defensive lineman Gatlyn Anderson came up with a big sack to slow the Dragons’ momentum. On the next play, defensive back Zach Birchem intercepted a pass by Dallas quarterback Landon Gardner to end the threat.
“We were in our cover-three zone. They (the coaches) were just saying ‘No one behind you. Keep everyone in front,’” Birchem said. “Our d-line started rushing so their quarterback was under pressure. I just kind of read it after that.”
The Warriors followed up with a time consuming scoring drive of their own. A 30-yard run by Sipos on a third and 10 kept the drive alive. A few plays later, running back Keith Brown plowed his way into the Dallas end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Dragons had less than 40 seconds left to mount a comeback, but advanced to the Lebanon 21 with about 4 seconds left on the clock. The game ended when a penalty was called on the Dallas offense as time expired.
After a scoreless first quarter, Dallas took a 7-0 lead on a 47-yard pass play from Gardner to John Hofenbredl.
It was the first time the Warriors had trailed this young season.
The Warriors responded with a scoring drive of their own, capped by a 27-yard run by Barrett. The Warriors took the lead on the 2-point conversion as Weber found Sipos in the end zone.
Lebanon extended its lead with Brown caught a short pass from Weber over the middle and then eluded several Dallas defenders for a 54-yard touchdown.
The Dragons trimmed the deficit before halftime on a 6-yard run by Jared Coxen.
Dallas then took the lead with the only scoring drive of the third quarter. A second scoring run by Coxen and the extra point gave the Dragons a 20-15 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Sipos said the Warriors felt determined, and not panicked, as the final quarter began.
“We had to just punch it in, finish this game out, do what we do and play Lebanon football,” Sipos said.
Weber, a first-year starter at quarterback, finished 7 for 12 passing for 131 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
The Warriors ran for 191 yards, with Brown gaining 114 yards on 14 carries.
Sipos had a strong all-around game, contributing five solo tackles with eight assists and an interception.
The Warriors (2-0 Mid-Willamette Conference) will host Silverton (2-0) on Friday night.
LEBANON 28, DALLAS 20
LEBANON 0 15 0 13 - 28
DALLAS 0 13 7 0 - 20
Dallas: Landon Gardner 47 pass to John Hofenbredl. Hofenbredl kick. (11:49)
LHS: Brock Barrett 27 run. Cole Weber 3 pass to Dane Sipos for 2 pt. conversion. (10:09)
LHS: Weber 54 pass to Keith Brown. Kick good. (6:01)
Dallas: Jared Coxen 6 run. Conversion failed.
Dallas: Coxen 3 run. Hofenbredl kick. (10:25)
LHS: Barrett 2 run. Conversion failed. (6:17)
LHS: Brown 3 run. Kick good. (0:37)
Passing: Lebanon – Weber 7-12-0-131; Dallas – Gardner 5-11-2-164.
Rushing: Lebanon – Brown 14-114; Barrett 14-41; Weber 10-18; Sipos 1-30; Roles 1-3; Kisling 4 - (-15); Dallas – Lundin 5-59; Johnson 8-48; Coxen 9-28; Grillo 3-16; Hofenbredl 2-11; Spencer 4-4; Nguyen 1-4; Gardner 1- (-10).
Receiving: Brown 2-59; Sipos 1-24; Wolfe 1-23; Currey 1-14; Flores 1-8; Barrett 1-3; Dallas – Wallace 2-67; Hofenbredl 1-47; Nguyen 1-32; Johnson 1-18; Spencer 1 – (-4).