DAYTON – The Robert E. Lee Ganders got an Ijenea Wooley six-yard touchdown run with 1:44 left in the game to pull out a dramatic, 35-34, win over the Dayton on Friday night at Bronco Stadium in a District 12-5A II contest.
REL (5-3, 2-3) kept its playoff hopes alive after being down and travel to Vidor 7:30 p.m. Friday in what is essentially a de facto playoff game.
The Ganders equaled their most wins since 2012.
“It wasn’t a pretty thing,” REL head coach Tim Finn said. “Our first two offensive plays we drop the ball and we’re down 10-0 before we run a legit, offensive play. The offense took us down when we needed to score. It was a total team win.”
Jabier Quinones rushed for 119 yards on 15 carries to lead the Ganders with Wooley adding another 84 on the ground while passing for 177. Elijah Partida caught six passes for 117 yards.
Dayton was led by Christian Olige who rushed for a game high 170 yards on 28 carries. He also added another 134 through the air.
Trailing 21-13 at the break, Dayton scored 15 points in a span of a little more than three minutes to take a 28-21 lead in the third quarter.
The Broncos first score came on a Darius Zenon two-yard run with 8:32 left in the quarter to get the home team within 21-20.
A few minutes later it was Deon Robinson stepping in front of a Wooley pass and racing 54 yards the other way to give Dayton a 28-21 lead. After a Gander safety with 2:34 left in the third quarter made it a 28-23 game, Wooley capped of a 47-yard drive with a 28-yard scamper and REL had regained the lead at 29-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
“The whole thing there was our punt team did a great job letting the ball roll inside the 1-yard line which led to the safety,” Finn said. “It was a defensive, special teams and offensive series there.”
The Broncos then put together a 74-yard 11-play drive to grab the lead back as Christian Olige scored on a one-yard run with 9:09 left and a 34-29 advantage.
The Broncos (1-7, 0-5) quickly jumped out to an early 10-0 lead as the Ganders fumbled two of their first three snaps of the night.
REL got on the board with a Wooley to Elijah Partida 43-yard touchdown pass and the Ganders were within 10-7 at the 6:50 mark of the opening quarter.
Late in the first quarter, REL grabbed its first lead of the night by moving 79 yards on eight plays. Facing a first and goal from the four-yard line, the Ganders lined lineman Richardo Ramirez out to a receiver spot and Wooley flicked a pass to the junior who was wide open for the score and Lee led 14-13 entering the second quarter of play.
The score stayed the same until the 2:43 mark of the second quarter when the Ganders added to their advantage with a Quinones 44-yard scoring run and Lee had a 21-13 halftime lead.
“The kids kept battling and that’s what was impressive,” Finn said. “We got into some bad situations and fought our way out of them.”
– Alan Dale contributed to this story