Lebanon High made one play after another to take a two-score lead in the fourth quarter.
South Albany didn’t quit, answering with its own string to steal the momentum and claim what could be a season-changing win.
The Rebels scored 15 points in the final five minutes to complete the comeback in a 28-24 home win against the Warriors in a pivotal late-season Mid-Willamette Conference football game.
Lebanon (5-3, 2-3) had a 24-13 lead after Ray Rashoodi’s 56-yard run on a reverse play with 6:11 left. It followed an intentional safety by South (4-4, 4-1) after the Rebels were backed up to the goal line, and the Warriors were set up with a short field.
But that’s where South, knowing it needed a win in its last two games to secure a postseason berth, took over.
The Rebels quickly drove 80 yards, most of that coming on Camren Hemzacek 44-yard touchdown pass from Jake Costellowith with 4:47 remaining. Costello found Kyle Miller on a two-point conversion pass and South was down just three.
Pulido recovered teammate Oswaldo Ramirez’s ensuing onside kick and the Rebels were in business at the Lebanon 47.
Pulido, South’s fifth player from the sideline on the play, was expecting to make a block to allow another South player to get the ball. Instead, it landed in his hands.
A Hemzacek 14-yard pass followed by a 14-yard Costello lateral moved the Rebels to the Lebanon 14. South got to the Warriors 4 but needed four plays from there to get it in.
Ray Wilson had three straight 1-yard carries before Costello got in the end zone on a dive.
Lebanon started at its own 9 after a penalty on the ensuing kickoff. The Warriors got as far as their own 29 before four straight incomplete passes got South a huge victory.
It was the Rebels’ fifth straight win against the Warriors.
The regular season concludes next Friday, with South Albany at Crescent Valley and Lebanon hosting Dallas.
Lebanon, playing without starting quarterback Colton Shepard, took a 16-13 lead on Brenton Rice’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Rood and Rood’s two-point conversion pass to Kyler Alley with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.
The safety, one play after the Warriors stopped Costello for a 5-yard loss after a running play, made it 18-13. Lebanon scored three plays later on Rashoodi’s long run.
Rice, playing in place of Shepard, rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries and passed for 64 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Lebanon coach Ty Tomlin, whose defending state champion team is now in jeopardy of missing the state playoffs, tipped his cap to South Albany and the plays it made down the stretch.
He said the Rebels remained “poised and calm” on their way to winning the game.
“I’m disappointed in my kids. They didn’t play the game they normally play,” Tomlin said. “I always love my kids and I’m proud of my kids. But I’m disappointed with them tonight just on the finish part. That’s just part of the learning process.”
South running back Ray Wilson looked to be close to 100 percent after missing two games earlier in the season with an injury.
He rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts. Costello had 32 yards rushing and passed for 28 with a touchdown and an interception.
Ramirez kicked two field goals, including a 21-yarder on the final play of the first half to give South a 10-8 lead.