DILLON — Heading into the fourth quarter of last week’s game against Hamilton, the Dillon Beavers found themselves down 19-13 to the top-ranked team in the state. Hamilton, led by head coach Bryce Carver and quarterback Carson Rostad, were in control most of the game and seemed poised to close out the game in the last quarter. But fueled by its home crowd, Dillon wasn’t ready to roll over.
“We’ll always believe in ourselves over four quarters of football," said Dillon head coach Zach McRae. "There’s a few things in the first half, first quarter, second quarter or even third quarter. But we trust our training and we trust our preparation that over the course of four quarters we can get the job done.”
With that mindset and about eight-and-a-half minutes on the clock trailing 25-20, the Beavers went to work, driving the length of the field to set themselves up with a fourth-and-goal from inside the 3-yard line. And coach McRae knew exactly what play to call.
“I got this little thing on my play sheet that says ‘go for it’ and I figured, 'What the heck? We’re in this position, Beavers never quit, we always fight, so might as well go for it,'" McRae said.
So on fourth-and-goal Dillon quarterback Justus Peterson dropped back and lofted a pass up to an open Peter Gibson in the end zone, a play they knew would work the minute it was called.
“I just knew it was going to be open if I sold it pretty good," said Peterson. "And I looked back there -- I was having some pressure, they blitzed the linebackers out there -- and I knew it was going to be open, so I just laid it up and let (Gibson) go and get it.”
“It was really exciting. You always thought about the moment beating the No. 1 team, and it was right there in our hands," added Gibson. "We had little time left and it was real exciting. After we celebrated a little bit we were just like, 'OK, got to get my job done for a couple more plays and we can go celebrate some more after.'”
Hamilton drove down the field with 42 seconds left. A last-second lateral made things exciting at the end, but Dillon held on for the 26-25 win and now looks to ride that momentum into its next game: a road contest with the Corvallis Blue Devils.
“But Corvallis, boy they run the ball really well. Their philosophy is to eat a lot of clock and to play physical football," McRae said. "And I think it just presents another opportunity for us to get better.”