Ryan looked more like its usual self Saturday.
After back-to-back weeks of slow starts, the Raiders played as perfect a first half as one can ask for in a third-round playoff game. Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders threw five touchdown passes and Ryan scored on its first five possessions to lay the groundwork for a 49-28 win over Lubbock Monterey in a Class 5A Division I Region I semifinal at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Ryan — 13-0 and No. 3 in 5A — will play in a region final for a third straight season when it faces Lubbock Coronado at 2 p.m. Saturday at Abilene Christian.
"I'll drive anywhere at this point in the season," Ryan coach Dave Henigan said with a smile. "We played really well for this being a third-round playoff game. You should be peaking at this point. I hope we haven't peaked yet, but we are definitely getting there. I'm very pleased."
Saturday was a rematch of last year's regional semifinal, a game Ryan had to pull away late to win 38-21. This time, Ryan didn't commit a single turnover and led 28-0 with just under nine minutes to play in the first half. The Raiders led 49-7 going into the fourth quarter.
Sanders completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 267 yards. He connected with five receivers, including Texas Tech pledge Gabriel Douglas, who hauled in seven passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns of 45, 19 and 29 yards, respectively.
Ryan's Emani Bailey rushed for 100 yards and a score. Tauskie Dove had 46 receiving yards and a TD.
"It felt great to go up 14-0 against a really good team," Sanders said. "We played awesome on offense and the defense played great. If we fight like we did today every time we step on the field, there isn't anyone in the state that can stop us. I believe in my teammates that much."
Monterey (8-5) finished with 427 yards of offense but had just 146 in the first half. Ryan opened the game with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive, then went up 14-0 after Monterey missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.
The Plainsmen turned the ball over on downs on their next possession. Ryan quickly answered when Sanders found Douglas for a 19-yard touchdown six seconds into the second quarter.
It was the second of three straight touchdown receptions for Douglas.
Sanders extended Ryan's lead to 35-7 just before the end of the half with a 31-yard dart over the middle of the field to Jamarion Robertson.
The Raiders missed a field goal at the end of the first half but opened the second half with back-to-back scores by way of their run game, one from Bailey and another from freshman Ke'ori Hicks, to give them scores on seven of their first eight possessions.
"You always want to start fast, but sometimes it's just not realistic," Henigan said. "To come out today and put pressure on them as quickly as we did was big.
"To make it to another region final is a testament to this program. That tradition started long before I was here. We've had a lot of good players and coaches who helped make that happen."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 49, Lub. Monterey 28
DR -- Chritauskie Dove 15 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 45 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 19 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Gabriel Douglas 29 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
LM -- Trey Manahan 33 pass from Brylon Lawson-Young (Briley Alexander kick)
DR -- Jamarion Robertson 31 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Emani Bailey 4 run (Luis Cantu kick)
DR -- Ke'ori Hicks 1 run (Luis Cantu kick)
LM -- Damontrareis Lacy 6 run (Briley Alexander kick)
LM -- Brylon Lawson-Young 15 run (Briley Alexander kick)
LM -- Xavier White 26 pass from Brylon Lawson-Young (Briley Alexander kick)
Rushing -- DR: Emani Bailey 14-100, Ke'ori Hicks 8-47, Spencer Sanders 10-45, Tra Smith 1-1, Jose Gaona Jr. 4--6, LM: Brylon Lawson-Young 18-125, Damontrareis Lacy 14-77, Tyaquna Williams 7-47, Jalen Benton 1-0, Coreon Bailey 1--3.
Passing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 17-23-0-267, Ian Henigan 1-1-0-3, LM: Brylon Lawson-Young 15-26-1-181.
Receiving -- DR: Gabriel Douglas 7-124, Chritauskie Dove 3-46, Billy Bowman Jr. 5-45, Jamarion Robertson 2-43, Ja'tavion Sanders 1-12, LM: Xavier White 8-95, Trey Manahan 2-50, Darien Smith 4-33, Damontrareis Lacy 1-3.