DALLAS — Halfway through the fourth quarter, it appeared Dallas’ football team was headed toward its first league victory of the season on Homecoming night.
A pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter from Brycen Grillo gave the Dragons an 18-7 lead over South Albany with 5:37 left in the game.
The Rebels had other plans, scoring two touchdowns to stun Dallas 22-18 on Friday.
The rally started thanks to a 30-yard touchdown pass from Rebel quarterback Jake Costello to Eli Nafziger that trimmed Dallas’ lead to 18-15 with 3:27 remaining.
The Dragons received the ensuing kickoff and needed three first downs to be able to run the clock out.
Dallas drove into Rebel territory, but South Albany recovered and returned a fumble to the Dragons’ 39-yard line with 1:13 left in the game.
Three plays later, the Rebels scored from 2 yards out to take a 22-18 lead with 51 seconds left.
“It was a gut-wrencher,” coach Tracy Jackson said. “Sometimes when you’re giving that extra effort, that’s when goofy things like that can happen.”
Dallas got off to a slow start against the Rebels.
South Albany took a 7-0 lead into the half after Dallas lost two fumbles.
“We’re starting out slow,” running back Brycen Grillo said. “We’re getting to halftime, getting yelled at by coaches — I’m not saying that’s a bad thing — and the leaders on the team are trying to get everyone to go out there and perform.”
The Dragons got on the board in the third quarter after Evan Courtney scored on a 10-yard run.
The game was the third heartbreaking loss in as many weeks.
Dallas led Glencoe 35-33 on Sept. 22 before Glencoe returned an interception 99-yards to score the game-winning touchdown.
The Dragons trailed Central 21-14 on Sept. 29 before fumbling at the 1-yard line, allowing the Panthers to run out the clock.
“It feels like we’ve been a little snake-bit, but it comes with the territory,” Jackson said. “You better be able to handle what’s coming. We’re going to keep working hard, correct some things that made it hard on us and get ready for the next game.”
Dallas (2-4 overall, 0-3 Mid-Willamette Conference) plays at Corvallis Thursday at 7 p.m.
“I think everyone has to realize you’re not doing this for yourself. You’re doing it for everyone around you,” Grillo said. “Once we start figuring that out, we’ve got the skills and everything we need to be a good football team.”