It wasn't until Service cornerback Zjhandon Jackson snatched a late-fourth quarter interception and ran it back 26 yards to midfield that Cougar fans could let out their collective breath Saturday.
Service ran the remaining 66 seconds off the clock and secured a 31-27 homecoming victory.
"We needed that win to get to the playoffs," a bloodied Jackson said after the game. "We did everything we could. Wasn't a pretty game but we got it done."
The win was as big for Service (3-3 overall, 2-1 Cook Inlet Conference) as it was heartbreaking for Dimond (1-5, 0-3).
The Lynx led 21-19 at halftime and 27-19 in the third quarter.
Jackson said linebacker Hunter Fanning got the Cougars pumped up and refocused in the halftime locker room.
"He said that we're the better team and if we don't shoot ourselves in the foot, we can go far," Jackson said. "He's our leader. He brings us up."
The Service comeback started when junior quarterback Jason Villanueva-Kaeo, who didn't play in the first half, threw a 22-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Izon Hogan that cut Dimond's lead to two at 27-25.
In the fourth quarter, Service used some trickery to score the go-ahead touchdown. Jackson took a handoff on a sweep and then handed the ball to senior Xavier Harris on the reverse for a nine-yard touchdown.
Harris, who played on a banged up foot injured last week against East, credited offensive linemen Kaden Caldarera, Ryan Styles, Joey Chavez, Tavake Noa and Jacob Toala.
"You can't ask for any other line," Harris said. "They work hard and they deserve lots of credit."
Nicknamed "Mr. Excitement" by the announcer, Harris rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 54 yards to lead the Service offense.
With an inconsistent passing game, Service leaned heavily on its running game, and its running backs flourished.
Junior Ben Faulkner eclipsed the century mark with 104 yards and one score, sophomore Mark Hostetter rumbled for 69 yards and junior Jacob Wade rolled for 55.
But despite Service's 441 yards of offense, it was the Lynx who led for much of the game. Dimond struggled to sustain long drives, but when it scored, it scored on big plays.
Wide receiver Cooper Arend scored touchdowns of 77 and 89 yards and finished with 178 receiving yards on passes from quarterback Nick Horning, who made his first start of the season. Horning completed 5 of 14 passes for 188 yards.
The Lynx ground game was led by Kekoa Tufaga, who rushed 17 times for 94 yards and one touchdown.
Dimond also scored on defense. A 30-yard interception return by Austin Vreeland lifted the Lynx to a 21-19 lead late in the second quarter.
"(Arend) was the kid we had to stop there (and) kids like Austin Vreeland on their defense, super kids," Service coach Jason Caldarera. "A lot of our kids grew up together in Pop Warner playing together.
"Our offense just found a way to find the end zone a little bit more than Dimond did."
Dimond 0 21 6 0 — 27
Service 12 7 6 6 — 31
Service — Faulkner 5 run (Cuellar kick blocked), 3:49.
Service — Harris 12 run (Harris run failed), 0:11.6
Dimond — Arend 77 pass from Horning (Arend kick), 11:80.
Service — Wade 3 run (Cuellar kick), 6:15.
Dimond — Tufaga 2 run (Arend kick), 3:49.
Dimond — Vreeland 30 interception return (Arend kick), 2:16.
Dimond — Arend 89 pass from Horning (Arend kick blocked), 10:34.
Service — Hogan 22 pass from Villanueva-Kaeo (Harris run failed), 5:59.
Service — Harris 9 run (Cuellar kick failed), 10:38.
RUSHING — Dimond: Tufaga 17-94, Arend 1-11, Horning 7-2. Service: Faulkner 15-104, Harris 13-78, Hostetter 17-69, Wade 12-55, Fanning 2-8, team 3-6, Helgeson 4-(-4).
PASSING — Dimond: Horning 5-14-1–188. Service: Helgeson 7-12-1–79, Villanueva-Kaeo 2-6-1–46.
RECEIVING — Dimond: Arend 4-178, Motuga 1-10. Service – Harris 3-54, Hogan 4-52, Jackson 1-24, Guevarra 1-(-5).
East 27, Bartlett 20
Service 31, Dimond 27
West 42, South 9
Palmer 35, Eagle River 8
Soldotna 44, Kodiak 7
Lathrop 49, Wasilla 7
Monroe Catholic 15, Seward 0
Homer 38, Nikiski 0
Barrow 19, Eielson 6
Chugiak 48, Kenai 0
Houston 36, Valdez 0
Thunder Mountain 35, North Pole 12
Colony 10, West Valley 7
Juneau 35, Ketchikan 14
Redington 20, Voznesenka 8