LONGVIEW — Daylon Mack carried the ball 18 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns — two in the fourth quarter — to help the Gladewater Bears come from behind for a 34-33 win over Atlanta at Lobo Stadium.
With Atlanta holding a 30-20 lead in the fourth quarter, Mack went 38 yards up the middle for a touchdown. The Rabbits stuffed Mack on the two-point try to keep the score at 30-26.
Atlanta extended its lead with the third field goal of the second half by Nick Bishop, this time a 28-yarder to make the score 33-26 with 7:16 remaining.
On the Bears’ next drive, they had a fourth-and-2 from their own 33. They handed to Mack for the 15th time and he sprinted 67 yards past the defense. Needing just an extra point to tie, Gladewater elected to go for two, and Mack powered his way into the end zone to give the Bears a 34-33 lead with 5:59 left in the contest.
With the weather wreaking havoc all night, the ensuing kickoff traveled just six yards to give Atlanta the ball at the Gladewater 44. On fourth-and-1, Atlanta quarterback Chase Musgrove looked to have enough for the first down, but he was stripped by Gladewater’s Kenneth Ainsworth.
Mack converted a fourth-and-2 to keep the following drive alive for the Bears and quarterback Nick Canaguier busted loose for a 38-yard gain. Instead of letting Canaguier score, Atlanta elected to tackle him at the 15 and Gladewater took a knee on the final play to notch its second playoff victory since 2001 and its second win over Atlanta this season.
Gladewater took a 46-34 victory over Atlanta on Sept. 21, but this time around, the Rabbits made the Bears work extra hard.
Gladewater held an 8-0 lead after the opening quarter thanks to a 2-yard run by Mack. Atlanta tied the game early in the second quarter with a 1-yard run from Musgrove and the two-point conversion.
After freshman Darnell McKnight scored on a 1-yard run late in the second quarter to give Gladewater the lead, Atlanta’s Kenneth Houff blocked the extra point and returned it 87 yards to the end zone to cut the Gladewater advantage to 14-10.
Atlanta added a 23-yard touchdown strike from Musgrove to Nigel Johnson with 31 seconds remaining to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room.
The Rabbits came out of halftime with a bang as Musgrove connected with Jace Flowers for a 77-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 24-14.
A fumbled snap on a punt attempt allowed Atlanta to take over at the 15, but the Bears held the Rabbits to a 27-yard field goal by Bishop that pushed the score to 27-14.
McKnight scored his second touchdown of the night from 13 yards out, two plays after Mack caught a short pass from Canaguier and moved 36 yards down the field.
Atlanta returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards after Eddrick King pitched it back to teammate Damien Lawson, who went around the edge down to the Gladewater 7. The Bears once again forced a field goal and Bishop connected on the 29-yard attempt to make the score 30-20 late in the third quarter.
James Reese rushed for 94 yards on 12 carries, which equaled Atlanta’s total amount of rushing yards. McKnight, a freshman, had 56 yards on 12 carries and the two scores for Gladewater, which had 397 yards on the ground.
Musgrove was 11 of 21 through the air for 183 yards with an interception. Gladewater’s Jazsten Tyiska picked off the pass in the end zone in the first half. Johnson had seven catches for 74 yards, and Flowers had two receptions for 103 yards for the Rabbits (7-5), who had just two first downs in the second half.