In one of the most memorable Homecoming Football games in school history, Dublin had highlight-making plays on offense, defense, and special teams to outlast Hayward 39-34 in front of a raucous crowd at Gaels Stadium on Friday night.
One of the more memorable sequences of the game happened midway through the first quarter. After a 4-yard touchdown run by Dublin’s Adam Moore to open the scoring, Hayward got on the board with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Gaels immediately reclaimed the momentum with a kickoff return for a touchdown of its own by Brandon D’Acquisto, putting Dublin on top 13-6 after the rare back-to-back sequence of kickoffs returned for touchdowns.
The final two minutes of the first half also saw a key sequence that would ultimately provide to decide the outcome of the game. Following Moore’s 2nd touchdown of the game with 1:21 left in the first half, Rionne Simpson made Dublin’s second pivotal play on special teams by recovering the kickoff after Hayward was unable to field the loose ball. Brady Steadman found the end zone just seconds later to extend Dublin’s lead to 25-13, and then Dublin’s defense made a huge touchdown-saving tackle at the 1-yard line as time expired to preserve the 2-score advantage heading into the break, a margin which would prove to be necessary to overcome a relentless Hayward offensive attack in the second half.
Hayward took the kickoff to trim the Gaels edge to 25-20 before Moore scored his 3rd touchdown of the game to restore Dublin’s 12-point lead at 32-20 late in the 3rd quarter. Hayward responded with a touchdown of its own, but the Gaels answered back after quarterback Sean Collins connected with D’Acquisto to maintain Dublin’s 12-point lead at 39-27.
The Farmers would not go away though, as they kept the pressure on Dublin by scoring another touchdown with 2:54 left in the game to cut Dublin’s lead to 39-34, and then stopped Dublin with 1:13 to end the cycle of exchanging touchdowns and giving the Farmers one final scoring opportunity to win the game with their last possession. After giving up three touchdown scoring drives in the second half (and one at the end of the first half which nearly resulted in a touchdown before making a tackle just shy of the end zone), the Gaels defense stiffened, halting Hayward’s drive at midfield in the final seconds to preserve the hard-fought victory.
Dublin concludes the nonleague portion of its schedule with an overall record of 4-2. The Gaels will be hosting Granada in its East Bay Athletic League home opener on Friday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m.
The Junior Varsity team won its second game in a row to improve to 3-3 overall after defeating Hayward 28-12. They will be in action at 4:30 p.m. against the Matadors prior to the Varsity contest.