DUBLIN—DeWayne Keith was everywhere, making big plays on both sides of the ball while leading Dublin to a 19-7 season-opening win over Clifton here Friday.
Keith accounted for 269 of Dublin’s 309 total yards of offense. He completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 173 yards, and scrambled 13 times for 125 yards. His numbers were slightly skewed because of 29 yards lost on four sacks.
"He threw the ball well, he ran the ball well, and he made some big plays on defense," Dublin Head Football Coach Dwayne Ross said of Keith. "He’s such a fierce competitor."
As the safety in Dublin’s defense, Keith picked off a pass in the end zone to save a touchdown in the first period, made a touchdown-saving-tackle on a big Clifton run early in the fourth, then broke up a pass on a fourth-down attempt by CHS in the waning moments.
Keith wasn’t the only Lion on defense to play well. Two goal line stands by the Dublin stop troops kept the Cubs off the scoreboard in the second half.
The DHS special teams outplayed Clifton as well, accounting for all five second-half points to help seal the victory.
Clifton had the first threat to score after driving into Dublin territory midway through the opening period. The Cubs went for the home run ball with quarterback Dylan Goforth throwing a pass into the Lions’ end zone on a deep fade pattern. It was not to be, however, as Keith made his first big play with a leaping interception.
Taking over at their own 20, the Lions marched 80 yards in eight plays. An end around by Sami Lopez and a QB draw by Keith picked up 15 yards to begin the drive. Keith then completed a pair of passes to Derek Reeder and Aaron Teague, with an 18-yard gain on a QB sweep sandwiched in between.
After a Clifton timeout, Keith dialed up Teague’s number again, and the sophomore receiver answered with an 18-yard touchdown reception to give Dublin the early advantage.
Both defenses stood their ground until Clifton tied the score with 1:41 remaining in the first half. Goforth capped a nine-play (all runs), 68-yard drive with three consecutive keepers. The sophomore signal-caller finally crossed the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the Dublin one.
The Clifton score set up an exciting finish to the half. After a kickoff return to their own 30, the Lions went to work with only 1:35 to play.
Keith completed three straight passes, going first to Teague for 16 yards, then to Lopez for 12 and Teague again for 20. The senior field general took matters into his own hands from that point, thrilling spectators with a highlight-reel-worthy 22-yard touchdown on a QB draw in which he started up the middle, stutter-stepped, darted to the right, juked a would-be tackler, and sprinted to pay dirt. The drive covered 70 yards in just four plays, lasting only 47 seconds.
"That’s the way the offense is supposed to work," Ross said of the Lions’ quick seven points.
If Dublin did one thing wrong on the quick march to the end zone, it was leaving time on the clock.
A hush fell over the stands as the hearts of Lions fans skipped a beat while watching Taylor Tims take off down the sideline and catch a 31-yard pass from Goforth. It momentarily looked as if Tims might get away for a 52-yard scoring play to tie the game as time expired in the first half. Relief swept the Dublin sideline when Tims stepped out of bounds at the Lions’ 27 with no time remaining on the clock.
One of the night’s biggest stories was the extended halftime. While rain was absent all night, an area lightning storm did manage to close in on Memorial Stadium during the break. DISD officials cleared the metal bleachers and instructed the teams to remain in the locker rooms while a 30-minute delay turned into almost an hour.
"I don’t know who that helped or hurt more, us or them," Ross said.
For at least one play at the beginning of the second half, it looked like it was the Lions who came out ready to play after the delay.
Lopez recorded his longest run of the night on the first play from scrimmage, covering 36 yards. The Dublin offense stalled deep in Clifton territory, however, and a 20-yard field goal attempt by Edgar Rodriguez was blocked.
Clifton took over on their own 20, and disaster struck the Cubs while attempting to punt after a quick three-and-out by the Dublin defense.
The snap sailed over the head of Goforth, who handles punting duties in addition to playing quarterback. He recovered in his own end zone, and was dropped by Mike Gonzales for a Dublin safety.
The Lions added a field goal with 3:24 left in the third to finish the scoring. The 34-yard kick by Rodriguez finished a drive that covered 46 yards in nine plays.
The Dublin defense stepped up to preserve the victory in the final stanza.
Clifton drove all the way to the Dublin one before the Lions stood their ground, and Keith broke up a pass attempt on fourth down.
The Cubs threatened again late in the game, but another incompletion on fourth-and-goal ended their scoring hopes with 2:31 to play.
"That was a gut check," Dublin defensive coordinator Keith Owen said of the goal line stands.
Despite the sloppy play in the second half after the long weather delay, Ross was glad to start the season with a win.
"I wish we would have scored a couple more times, and I thought we could have," Ross said. "But it’s a win, and we’ll take it any way we can get it."
Next week, Dublin battles Godley, which dropped its opener to Grandview Friday, 34-28. Kickoff in Godley Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.