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Football: Ryan tames Mustangs to set up semifinal rematch with Scots

ABILENE -- Lubbock Coronado got everyone's attention last week when it scored 80 points in a statement win over Colleyville Heritage. A question entering Saturday's game was whether or not the Mustangs could line up and do it again against the state's No. 3 Class 5A team.

Ryan made sure the answer was a resounding "no" in a 69-49 win in the Class 5A Division I Region I final on Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium.

Ryan (14-0) gave up more points than it had in a game all season but forced two turnovers and scored more points than it had all year while going into the fourth with a 41-point lead. Oklahoma State commit Spencer Sanders accounted for 485 total yards and seven touchdowns (three rushing) to set up a rematch with Highland Park (13-1) at 9 p.m. Friday at Arlington's AT&T Stadium. 

Ryan lost in last year's state semifinals to Highland Park, which went on to win the state title.

"Redemption," said Sanders, who tore his ACL in the second quarter of that 31-24 loss. "That's all I have to say about that, honestly."

Coronado (13-1) was the first Lubbock school district team to play in a fourth-round game since 1992, but its high-octane offense struggled to keep up with Ryan despite finishing with 542 yards. Coronado scored 21 of its points in the fourth quarter with the game already out of hand and Ryan's starters sitting on the bench.   

Coronado's Qua Gray threw for 360 yards and four touchdowns but only completed 50 percent of his passes while also throwing an interception in the first quarter. Kaleb Manuel rushed for 157 yards and scored twice, while Blair Conwright added 136 receiving yards.

Manuel and Conwright scored back-to-back touchdowns to trim Ryan's lead to 13 points with 1:13 left in the first half, but the Mustangs immediately took one on the chin when Ryan sophomore Tra Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. 

That score set off a 28-0 run that extended Ryan's lead to 69-28 going into the fourth quarter.

"I think that gave us the momentum at that point," Smith said about his kickoff return.

Sanders completed touchdown strikes of 7, 24, 4 and 69 yards as he finished with 302 yards through the air. He rushed for 183 yards, including scoring runs of 38, 3 and 13 yards. Emani Bailey added 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Jamarion Robertson chipped in with 135 yards and two touchdowns on just five receptions.

"They did that against a different team. That's not us," Ryan coach Dave Henigan said of the Mustangs' 80-point performance last week. "They ended up scoring 49 against us, and we knew they would score. But our defense is a proud bunch. They were flying around, creating turnovers and had several red zone stops. Those were things we said would be keys to the game. 

"And when we did all those things, we scored."

The score was tied at 7 less than three minutes into the first quarter. Coronado had the ball and was in Ryan territory when Gray's pass was batted high in the air near the line of scrimmage. Ryan's Kosi Eldridge came down with it, and Ryan scored less than three minutes later.

Ryan led 20-14 when it opened the second quarter with three straight scores to go up 41-14.

Ryan was playing in its third straight region final. If the Raiders beat Highland Park on Friday, they will secure their sixth state title game appearance since 2000. 

"I'm proud of the kids and the coaching staff. We came up with a good plan and executed it against a good football team," Henigan said. "We're going to enjoy this win because they are hard to come by. Next week is going to be a huge game against an opponent we are very familiar with."

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve. 

 Ryan 69, Lubbock Coronado 49

Denton Ryan 20 28 21 0 -- 69
Lub. Coronado 14 14 0 21 -- 49

LC -- Kaleb Manuel 69 run (Gage Urias kick)

DR -- Spencer Sanders 38 run (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Gabriel Douglas 7 pass from Spencer Sanders (kick failed)

DR -- Jamarion Robertson 24 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)

LC -- Jon Hernandez 5 pass from Qua Gray (Gage Urias kick)

DR -- Spencer Sanders 3 run (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Spencer Sanders 13 run (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Chritauskie Dove 4 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)

LC -- Kaleb Manuel 7 run (Gage Urias kick)

LC -- Blair Conwright 16 pass from Qua Gray (Gage Urias kick)

DR -- Tra Smith 83 kickoff return (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Jamarion Robertson 69 pass from Spencer Sanders (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Emani Bailey 34 run (Luis Cantu kick)

DR -- Emani Bailey 1 run (Luis Cantu kick)

LC -- Jarrod Compton 1 run (Gage Urias kick)

LC -- Jon Hernandez 44 pass from Qua Gray (Gage Urias kick)

LC -- Blair Conwright 44 pass from Qua Gray (Gage Urias kick)

Team Stats DR LC
First Downs 23 25
Rushing Yards 31-345 37-182
Passing Yards 302 360
Passing 17-26-0 20-40-1
Punts-Avg 2-39.00 4-32.00
Penalties 12-129 6-42
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1


Rushing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 13-183, Emani Bailey 10-128, Billy Bowman Jr. 2-18, Ke'ori Hicks 5-13, Jose Gaona Jr. 1-3, LC: Kaleb Manuel 16-157, Jarrod Compton 16-57, Ivan Vasquez 1-1, Qua Gray 3--15, Team Stat 1--18.

Passing -- DR: Spencer Sanders 17-26-0-302, LC: Qua Gray 20-40-1-360.

Receiving -- DR: Jamarion Robertson 5-135, Ja'tavion Sanders 2-66, Gabriel Douglas 5-61, Billy Bowman Jr. 2-18, Chritauskie Dove 2-14, Emani Bailey 1-8, LC: Blair Conwright 4-136, Jon Hernandez 8-128, Devin Morrison 2-50, Caden Hensley 1-21, Kaleb Manuel 2-19, Jarrod Compton 3-6.