The Ryan team that leveled Fort Worth Brewer in the second half of Thursday's Class 5A playoff opener is what coach Dave Henigan hopes to see a lot more of moving forward.
Nothing was easy early on for the Raiders, who looked out of sorts before extending an 11-point halftime lead with four straight scoring drives in a 42-17 win at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. Ryan (11-0) finished with 422 yards after being held to 196 yards and a turnover in the first half.
Ryan had 263 rushing yards. Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders finished with 149 yards and a score to go with 159 passing yards and two touchdowns. Emani Bailey had 87 yards and a score.
Ryan will face Birdville or Fort Worth South Hills at 3 p.m. next Friday at Saginaw High.
"Give Brewer credit. They got after us and mixed things up. We also turned the ball over and had a coaching blunder that cost us a penalty on the 1-yard line and we ended up not scoring," Henigan said. "Those things can't happen, but our defense played lights-out and we scored on special teams. We did that long enough until our offense got going.
"We are going to enjoy this one. We don't take anything for granted."
Gabriel Douglas' 53-yard punt return with 8:50 left in the first half gave Ryan a 14-3 lead. By all accounts, that put the game out of reach, as Brewer (6-5) only mustered 99 yards by halftime. But the Raiders put their stamp on the game immediately after intermission.
Sanders engineered an 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped by his 24-yard strike to Tauskie Dove less than four minutes into the third. That score kick-started a sequence that saw the Raiders score three times in a span of six minutes, eight seconds. The next score came off a pretty 42-yard run from Sanders with five minutes to go in the third.
After Brewer turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, it took Ryan four plays to reach the end zone again. Bailey capped that drive with a 22-yard run with 2:17 to go in the third.
"We got into a little bit of a rhythm there," Henigan said.
Ke'ori Hicks added a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:20 left in the game for a 42-3 lead.
It was a case of better late than never. Ryan led 7-3 going into the second quarter and was going in for another score when it fumbled near the Brewer 5-yard line. Brewer couldn't do anything with its next possession and immediately gave up a touchdown to Douglas on the ensuing punt.
Ryan was forced to punt on its next offensive possession, then put together another long drive only to turn the ball over on downs in the Brewer red zone.
"It's not how you start; it's how you finish," said Dove, who finished with 42 receiving yards and the touchdown on four catches. "This definitely feels good."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 42, Fort Worth Brewer 17
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 45 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
FB -- Jorge Estrada 26 FG
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 53 punt return (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Chritauskie Dove 24 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Spencer Sanders 42 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Emani Bailey 22 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Ke'ori Hicks 1 run (Luis Cantu kick)
FB -- Justin Davis 10 run (Jorge Estrada kick)
FB -- Christian Calton 1 run (Jorge Estrada kick)
Rushing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 15-149, Emani Bailey 12-87, Ke'ori Hicks 4-20, Jose Gaona Jr. 3-5, Hunter Wright 1-3, Tra Smith 1--1, FB: Christian Calton 29-132, Justin Davis 2-22, Carson Ingram 8-21, Jaelyn Herod 3-19, Jorge Estrada 1--14.
Passing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 15-26-0-159, FB: Carson Ingram 7-21-0-64.
Receiving -- DR: Gabriel Douglas 5-63, Chritauskie Dove 4-42, Jamarion Robertson 5-41, Emani Bailey 1-13, FB: Jaidyn Cartwright 2-42, Jonathon Goss 2-14, Jahrad Taylor 1-5, Curtis Taylor 2-3.