Dominic Rufran beat the cornerback, but wasn’t sure the football would arrive before the safety. It did, just barely.
Rufran gathered in Andre Brown’s long pass and raced the remaining 40 yards for an 80-yard touchdown that made the difference in Palmer’s 35-28 victory against Rampart at Garry Berry Stadium on Saturday.
“It was a perfect strike, a perfect pass to give us the ‘W,’” Rufran said. “For a second I thought he was going to get it.”
Rampart safety Zac Boyd was close, just as the Rams were while trying to tie the game in the final 75 seconds.
Receiver Zach Looney seemingly caught two passes at the 2-yard line on third and fourth downs, but both were ruled incomplete.
Rufran’s big play was his third touchdown as Brown threw for five TDs and 330 yards on 15-of-20 completions. The Terrors (1-7, 1-6) snapped a 16-game losing streak.
“It’s been so long since we won,” said Rufran, who caught eight passes for 210 yards and called it his best game ever. “It feels so great. It’s replenishing.”
Palmer’s quick-strike passing game and Rampart’s determined rushing attack were a study in contrast as the Rams dominated time of possession (36:46 to 11:14).
Palmer coach Rod Baker was proud of his team’s effort, especially after last week’s 56-19 loss to powerhouse ThunderRidge.
“It’s great to see the kids and coaches with big old grins on their faces,” Baker said. “We were faced with adversity last week but I told the kids it’s adversity that defines you but how you handle it. The kids worked hard all week and this was the result.”
Rampart (1-7, 1-7) rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit, thanks largely to the power running of senior Zach Van Wagenen, who had 159 yards on 23 carries, including a pair of second-half touchdowns.
“At halftime a couple of our senior leaders stepped up and said, ‘We’re better than this,’” Looney said. “It was really fun to make that comeback after we talked about it at halftime.”
After Rufran’s 80-yard TD with 5 minutes left, the Rams drove to Palmer’s 22-yard line. Quarterback David Melander hit Looney with a pass at the 2 but it was ruled incomplete with 1:10 remaining. The same slant pattern led to another incompletion, although Looney thought he caught both balls.
Of the third-down play, which would’ve given Rampart a first down at the 2, Rams coach Paul Passno said the ruling of an incompletion “stunk.”
“He caught the ball and ran parallel four yards, Passno said. “He fumbled and we recovered it. (Looney) is an All-State catcher with the best hands of anybody I’ve ever coached.”
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