WICHITA FALLS — The road to the high school football playoffs may now be a bit more challenging for the Lake Dallas Falcons.
The Falcons went up against 2012 Class 4A state semifinalist Wichita Falls Rider on Friday night at Memorial Stadium and simply were outmatched. The Raiders scored on each of their first two possessions of each half, and Josh Hatch returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown to help the Raiders claim a 45-14 District 5-4A victory.
For Lake Dallas, the loss is the second in a row against a top team in the district. Last week, the Falcons lost to Trophy Club Nelson 24-14, as well as senior star receiver Josh Jackson, an Iowa commit, with a broken foot.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Falcons take on defending state champion Guyer next week. At 1-2 in district, the Falcons (4-2) would be in a tough spot with a loss to Guyer.
On Friday, the Falcons had more than they could handle against a polished Rider squad that improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in district.
The Raiders finished with 365 yards total offense and held Lake Dallas to 225 yards, including only 62 yards rushing. Rider also forced Lake Dallas to punt seven times (Rider punted just three times, all with their second-team offense in the game).
Jackson’s presence would have perhaps helped the Falcons’ offense — he had 485 receiving yards and nine scores this season — but it still might not have been enough against Rider’s dominating defensive front and efficient offense.
Lake Dallas quarterback Dagen Haehn was on the run most of the night and completed 16 of 31 passes for 163 yards, two touchdowns and the costly interception. Garrett Shackelford (seven catches for 61 yards) and Brandon Simpson (3-50) each caught TD passes for the Falcons.
But it was Rider’s ability to score, and score quickly at the start of each half that set the tone for the game.
The two teams nearly matched each other in total offense in the first half — 217 for Rider, 205 for Lake Dallas — but the difference was Rider’s ability to get an early 14-0 lead, then closed out the first half with Hatch’s interception return for a touchdown that pushed the Raiders’ lead to 31-14 at intermission.
Lake Dallas fell behind quickly as the Raiders scored on their first two possessions for a two-touchdown lead midway through the first quarter. Carlos Fleeks ran in from 2 yards out on Rider’s first possession and, following a 17-yard Lake Dallas punt, Rider had the ball at the Falcons’ 32. Three plays later, Rider quarterback Chase London (16-of-24 passing, 210 yards) connected on a 5-yard scoring strike to Cody Taylor.
Lake Dallas found its stride on the ensuing possession, set up by a 61-yard kickoff return by Keegan Brewer and a 15-yard personal foul that put the Falcons at the Rider 24. Two plays later, Haehn connected with Simpson from 27 yards out.
Wichita Falls Rider 45, Lake Dallas 14
WFR — Carlos Fleeks 2 run (Brayden Burgess kick)
WFR — Cody Taylor 5 pass from Chase London (Brayden Burgess kick)
LD — Brandon Simpson 27 pass from Dagan Haehn (Nick Krygsman kick)
WFR — Carlos Fleeks 1 run (Brayden Burgess kick)
LD — Garrett Shackelford 1 pass from Dagan Haehn (Nick Krygsman kick)
WFR — Brayden Burgess 33 FG
WFR — Josh Hatch 82 interception return (Brayden Burgess kick)
WFR — Quartez Carter 11 run (Brayden Burgess kick)
WFR — Davon Allison 6 pass from Chase London (Brayden Burgess kick)
Rushing — LD: Jeremy Beason 5-37, Brandon Simpson 7-16, Mark Contreras 7-16, Keegan Brewer 1-4, Brett Sasser 1-1, James Dunne 1-0, Hunter Blanton 1--1, Dagan Haehn 6--11, WFR: Davon Allison 3-59, Carlos Fleeks 13-36, Quartez Carter 3-27, Josh Hatch 4-15, Jared Price 10-7, Chase London 5-5, Mar’Quavias Howard 1-5, Josh Price 1-1.
Passing — LD: Dagan Haehn 16-31-1-163, Brett Sasser 0-1-0-0, WFR: Chase London 16-24-0-210.
Receiving — LD: Garrett Shackelford 7-61, Brandon Simpson 3-50, Brett Sasser 3-27, Keegan Brewer 3-25, WFR: Davon Allison 6-125, T.J. Vasher 1-23, Hunter Robertson 1-19, Josh Price 2-14, Quartez Carter 1-14, Josh Hatch 1-7, Cody Taylor 3-5, Jonathan Dunn 1-3.