By BOBBY HORN JR.
DAYTONThe Dayton Broncos withstood a 21-point second half run Friday night to beat Waller 28-21 and earn themselves a spot in the State Semi-Finals this week.
The trip to College Station on Friday will be a first in the schools history.
As they have for the past two months, Dayton took control early in the game, building up a 21-0 halftime lead. The Purple and White saw their lead fade as Waller came back to score three straight touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter to tie game.
Gregory Charles, who has dominated other teams defense since moving into the starting role in Week 5, gave the Broncos their first points of the midway into the first quarter when he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Paul Fontenot. Dayton missed the extra point kick to leave the score 6-0.
Waller, who game into the game sporting a 9-3 record was unable to figure out Daytons defense in the opening half of the game. Three times the Bulldogs started off drives inside Daytons 40-yard line. Two the drives ended with Waller punting the ball. John Gable stopped the other drive himself.
With Waller threatening to score late in the first quarter, Gable picked off a Jeremy Phillips pass and returned it 67 yards to the Waller seven-yard line.
On the next play Charles struck again.
This time it was Jeffery Summers who pulled in the pass for a score. Realizing the importance of every point Dayton made up for the missed extra point kick in the first quarter by converting a two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Gable extended the Broncos lead at the 4:41 mark with a nine-yard touchdown run. Ronnie Powells PAT gave Dayton a 21-0 halftime lead.
The second half would not be as easy for Dayton.
Midway into the third quarter Dayton lined up for their first, and only, punt of the night. The punt did not go smoothly and Waller was able to take control at the Dayton 32-yard line.
The Broncos were unable to stop the drive this time as Waller took the ball down to the one-yard line. Then, on fourth and goal they scored to make it s 21-6 game after a missed extra point.
Getting the ball back after the kickoff Dayton did not have possession long. On their first play Gable fumbled the ball with Waller recovering. The Bulldogs made the most of the gift, moving back down the field. Waller would later score on a fourth and goal play from the two-yard line. They then ran a two-point conversion to close the gap to 21-14.
Waller tied the game 38 seconds into the fourth quarter on Eddie Browns six-yard run.
Dayton shook off this rally to regain control of the game with a half a quarter left to play. Moving the ball back down the field the Broncos positions themselves deep in Bulldog territory. Charles gave the handoff to A.J. Dugat who scored from six yards out to give Dayton the lead once again. Powell capped the drive with a PAT and 28-21 lead.
Waller was not done, however. With less than a minute left to play it looked like Waller would tie the game and force an overtime as quarterback Jeremy Phillips sprinted toward the endzone.
Gable made up for his earlier fumble by knocking the ball from Phillips hands. Xavier Edwards recovered the ball for Dayton with 13 seconds left to secure the win.
The win earns Dayton a trip to the Division II playoffs in College Station this week and just two wins away from the state championship.
Dayton will face the Lake Travis Cavaliers in the semifinals. Lake Travis comes into the game boasting a 13-1 season record.
The team is led by Garrett Gilbert, who is reportedly ranked as the third best quarterback in the country. This season along he has thrown for over 4,000 yards.
Over their 14 games this season Lake Travis has outscored their opponents 523-303 or a 220-point gap. While Dayton has not had the same offensive output as Lake Travis their defense has performed better. Dayton has scored 478 points and allowed just 125 points. These figures include the three losses Dayton had early in the season, two of which came by three points or less.
By BOBBY HORN JR.