SAGINAW — Ryan's offense hasn't exactly dazzled in the early stages of its first two playoff games. But it's hard to nitpick when the Raiders are finishing like they did Friday.
Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns while adding another 103 on the ground in a 49-6 win against Birdville in a Class 5A area-round game at Rough Rider Stadium. Ryan (12-0) rolled up 624 yards despite turning the ball over three times.
Sanders, an Oklahoma State commit, and Emani Bailey rushed for more than 100 yards while Tauskie Dove caught five balls for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Birdville (5-7) was held scoreless over the final three quarters.
"You start thinking, 'Oh, it's happening again,'" Sanders said of the slow offensive start. "But you just keep going about your business. When it comes down to it, we're going to come back."
Ryan will face Lubbock Monterey next Saturday at 2 p.m. at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. Monterey beat El Paso Andress to set up a rematch of last year's third round game, a game Ryan won.
Despite the slow starts, Ryan has combined to outscore its first two playoff opponents 91-23. On Friday, the Raiders trailed 6-0 before scoring 49-unanswered points — 28 in the second half.
"It's going to be tough sledding," Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. "Everyone you play is good and sometimes you start slow. But you need to figure out how to win the game.
"You look up and next thing you know, you're putting it on them."
Even late in the second quarter, it looked like Birdville still could make a game of it. Derrius Franklin intercepted Sanders three plays into Ryan's first drive of the game, and the Hawks went on to score first. Ryan took the lead on its next drive, but led only 14-6 midway through the second quarter.
The game got out of hand after that. Birdville cobbled together a solid drive all the way to the Ryan 34-yard line, but it ended in a turnover on downs. Ryan needed only six plays to extend its lead to 21-6 when Sanders capped the drive with an 11-yard pass to Tauskie Dove.
It was Sanders' second touchdown of the game up to that point.
Sanders threw his second interception of the game early in the third quarter, but he went on to throw three more touchdown passes of 18, 69 and 35 yards.
He connected with five receivers, three of which finished with at least 59 receiving yards. Gabriel Douglas, a Texas Tech commit, caught six passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Jamarion Robertson finished with 59 yards a touchdown.
Bailey rushed for 107 yards and a 22-yard touchdown. Ke'ori Hicks added 65 yards and a score to help Ryan finish with 320 rushing yards.
"We just tried to play our game," Sanders said. "At the end of the day, we play our game."
Birdville was one of four Dallas-Fort Worth teams — the others were Rockwall, Dallas Kimball and Trophy Club Nelson — to win a first-round playoff game despite finishing at or below .500 in the regular season.
Birdville had used a steady run game to rock previously-unbeaten Fort Worth South Hills 43-0 last week and looked like it would have success against Ryan. Although the Hawks moved the ball well in spots and converted a few trick plays, they simply couldn't sustain any drives.
Birdville's Laderrius Mixon finished with 106 rushing yards, but his team's lone scoring drive started at the Ryan 7-yard line after the first-quarter interception.
"Sometimes you don't win pretty," Henigan said. "But we got this one done tonight."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Denton Ryan 49, Birdville 6
BV -- Laderrious Mixon 1 run (kick blocked)
DR -- Emani Bailey 22 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Jamarion Robertson 46 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Chritauskie Dove 11 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 18 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Chritauskie Dove 69 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 35 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Ke'ori Hicks 64 run (Luis Cantu kick)
Rushing -- BV: Laderrious Mixon 26-106, Damian Morrell 10-30, Skylar Noble 1--5, Stone Earle 4--15, DR: Emani Bailey 17-107, Spencer Sanders 13-103, Ke'ori Hicks 2-65, Jose Gaona Jr. 5-23, Josh Rodgers 1-16, Tra Smith 2-10, Gabriel Douglas 1--4.
Passing -- BV: Stone Earle 7-15-0-64, Skylar Noble 1-2-0-31, Brendton Northey 1-1-0-15, DR: Spencer Sanders 17-27-2-304, Gabriel Douglas 0-1-1-0.
Receiving -- BV: Damian Morrell 2-47, Laderrious Mixon 1-19, Stone Earle 1-15, Brendton Northey 3-14, Chris Tucker 1-12, Hosea Armstrong 1-3, DR: Chritauskie Dove 5-123, Gabriel Douglas 6-70, Jamarion Robertson 2-59, Billy Bowman Jr. 3-29, Ja'tavion Sanders 1-23.