Ryan entered Thursday with just a one-game cushion over Wichita Falls Rider and Denison in the District 5-5A standings. Clearly, the disparity between those teams and Ryan is much greater.
Ryan, No. 3 in The Associated Press' Class 5A poll, walloped Rider 56-7 at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex behind another balanced night from its offense and turnover-inducing defense. The win gives Ryan the outright district title and a program-first third straight 10-0 regular season.
Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders passed for 263 yards and rushed for 166 while accounting for four touchdowns. Ryan's defense forced four turnovers.
"By no means was [winning the district title and staying unbeaten] our end goal. Our goal is to win the state title," said Ryan coach Dave Henigan, whose team combined to outscore Rider and Denison 112-23 in its last two games. "But when you step back, it is pretty neat."
Ryan (10-0, 6-0 district) does not know its first-round opponent but is locked in as the top seed in Class 5A Division I. And after dismantling the two teams closest to them in the standings, the Raiders appear to be firing on all cylinders.
Ryan didn't score its first touchdown until the 4:17 mark of the first quarter, but it had a 21-0 lead by the end of that frame and a 35-point lead at halftime.
The game got out of hand after Ryan took a 14-0 lead on Sanders' 66-yard touchdown run with 2:04 left in the first quarter. Rider (5-5, 4-2) started a drive but fumbled in its own territory. Rondarius McGarr scooped up the loose ball around the 20-yard line and took it in for a score.
Rider closed the gap briefly with a 64-yard pass from Jorge Vargas to Noah Randall, but after forcing Ryan to punt on its ensuing possession, Rider fumbled again on the punt return.
Sanders capitalized on the turnover with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Douglas with 9:12 left in the half. Ryan scored twice more as part of a 21-point run to close out the half.
Douglas finished with eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Emani Bailey rushed for 32 yards on seven carries and scored twice. Ryan racked up 216 of its 481 yards on the ground.
"This win has nothing to do with me," Sanders said. "We do this as a team and we couldn't do it without each other. The team chemistry is great right now, and it just keeps building and building."
Rider's Vargas threw for 240 yards and connected on several long passes. But his team turned the ball over three times by halftime and only gained 61 yards in the second half.
"We have a good mix of guys who are new to varsity and other guys who have played in a ton of games," Henigan said. "We have a very mature approach to each game in that we don't take any team for granted. We're going to get everyone's best shot, and I'm extremely proud of our defense and special teams. Our offense was explosive once again. It was a dominant performance."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 56, WF Rider 7
DR -- Jamarion Robertson 68 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Spencer Sanders 66 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Rondarius McGarr 20 fumble return (Luis Cantu kick)
RI -- Noah Randall 64 pass from Jorge Vargas (Colsen Welch kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 45 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Emani Bailey 12 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Emani Bailey 3 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 19 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Jose Gaona Jr. 1 run (Luis Cantu kick)
Rushing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 9-166, Emani Bailey 7-32, Jose Gaona Jr. 7-26, Tra Smith 2-20, Billy Bowman Jr. 1-4, Hunter Wright 1--12, Team Stat 1--20, RI: Marvin Walton 11-44, Brandon Bolton 14-26, Jorge Vargas 4-21, Darien Boyd 2-1, Samuel Manuel 3--8, Jack Cantrell 4--17.
Passing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 14-21-1-263, Hunter Wright 1-1-0-2, RI: Jorge Vargas 14-29-1-240, Jack Cantrell 1-1-0-11.
Receiving -- DR: Gabriel Douglas 8-139, Jamarion Robertson 1-68, Chritauskie Dove 3-40, Billy Bowman Jr. 2-16, Dujuan Harris 1-2, RI: Jake Edgemon 4-88, Noah Randall 2-84, Kyler Spear 2-35, Danari Curry 2-30, Cameron Myles 3-11, Samuel Manuel 2-3.