Dons Football Win Thriller Against Wilson

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A terrific ending can rescue an otherwise unimpressive script in the movies, and in sports, it can flip the entire narrative of what happened out on the field of play. The Verdugo Hills Dons football team did just that in their come from behind, last second 14-8 victory over the Wilson Mules. For almost four full quarters the Dons storyline was about missed opportunities and close calls on the offensive side of the ball, but they capitalized on 2 key Mules miscues to pull out the win as time expired.

Trailing 8-0 with under 2 minutes to go, the Dons had driven deep into Mules territory, but were stopped on 4th down. On the very next play, the Dons forced a fumble and Senior Linebacker/Running Back Nicholas Cisneros recovered the ball to keep hope alive for Verdugo Hills. The Mules defense appeared to stop the Dons until a defender ripped off Quarterback Dane Iversen’s helmet to give the Verdugo Hills a chance on 3rd down with 2 yards to gain from the Mules 11 yard line. Luke Waters dropped a pass in the end zone, to bring up 4th down, and during the ensuing time out Head Coach Sean Jackson told him he would get another chance, and Waters came through. “He’s a big guy for us. I told him we’re going to go back to him. He has to know we trust him and we’re not going to stop throwing him the ball”. Iversen scrambled to his left and looked like he was going to be tackled to end the drive, but he somehow got a shovel pass off in the direction of Waters, who caught the ball and was able to score to set up a game tying 2-point conversion attempt. On the attempt, Iversen again found Waters in the end zone to tie the game at 8-8 with 1:15 left in the game.

Though it looked like Wilson would run out the clock to send the game to overtime, they needed to successfully get off a few plays to do so. After two dropped screen passes, the Mules ran the ball to keep the clock running. They ran the game clock all the way down to under 10 seconds when the 4th down snap went over the quarterbacks he was able to dive on it before the dynamic Cisneros could recover for what would have been an uncontested fumble return for a touchdown. Nevertheless, the Dons had the ball on the Mules 21 yard-line with 4 seconds on the clock; just enough time for one shot at the end zone for the win before a possible overtime. Iversen faced pressure, but got the pass off towards Wide Receiver Ben Emery. Emery evaded his defender as he caught the ball and coasted into the end zone untouched for the score as time ran out, setting off a raucous celebration both on the field and in the stands. “I can’t believe I did this for the team,” Emery said, still soaking up the moment, “We did this together.”

For a team that is run by an offensive mind, aided by an offensive coordinator who would want to play aggressively with the ball, the Dons have leaned on their defense because it's been the main constant. “We have a quarterback who hasn’t really played,” Said Offensive Coordinator Chad Runnels, “he’s pretty good for a rookie.” Coach Jackson praised the team’s resilience, saying, “We tell them to play to the end, and that’s what they did. They were resilient and fought through adversity when they could have hung their heads (after failing to score on 4th down with less than 2 minutes left in the game down 8-0). They came right back out and fought hard.”

The Dons will look to build on this big win next Friday, September 17, when they travel to Monroe High School to face the Vikings in their East valley League opener.

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