Until the final minutes of the first half, it wasn’t clear which team was going to be the first to grab the game by the horns.
With each team exchanging offensive blows, the Wichita Falls Rider Raiders were the ones who landed the final punch of the half and the opening strike of the third quarter as they held on to defeat Denton 51-41 on senior night at Bronco Field on Friday.
Senior quarterback Chase London hung 275 yards passing for four touchdowns on the Broncos’ defense in a game that saw both teams combine for more than 1,000 yards, while Denton quarterbacks threw for more than 500 yards.
“We just had a letdown in that first series,” Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson said. “We really needed to get some points coming out of the half and we had some missed opportunities on the 2-yard line. I thought about kicking the field goal, but I knew it was going to be a high-scoring game. I was really proud of the way we fought. The culture is changing and this program is changing, and that is very evident by the way our kids played tonight.”
Along with Azle’s loss to Trophy Club Nelson, the defeat effectively eliminates the Broncos (4-5, 2-4 District 5-4A) from postseason contention.
In the second quarter, senior Deandre Coleman’s 29-yard catch and runs by sophomore Xavier Scott helped the Broncos move the ball down to the Raiders’ 3-yard line, but junior Christian Rodriguez’s fourth-down pass to junior Key’andre Hearvey in the end zone fell incomplete, giving Rider the ball with 2:42 remaining in the first half.
The Raiders then began to chew up clock and rode an 11-play drive, capped by Carlos Fleeks’s 2-yard touchdown to give themselves a 30-20 lead with just eight seconds left in the half. The Broncos nearly snuck in a touchdown on the kick return, as senior Maurice Wharton got the ball down to the Raiders’ 17-yard line to end the half.
“It turned it,” Atkinson said of the Raiders’ late first-half touchdown, “but we got a little bit of momentum back on that kickoff return. We were just a guy away. That would have been huge. We missed some other opportunities for big plays, but I was still proud of the way our guys hung in there.”
Denton’s defense started the game solidly, holding the Raiders to a three-and-out, which gave the Broncos a chance to claim the first lead of the game. Rodriguez found senior Ke’Von Buris, who finished with 278 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches, on a quick bubble screen, and he went up the left sideline, outracing several defenders for a 70-yard touchdown with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
Rider (7-2, 5-1) didn’t waste any time taking the lead after Denton’s failed 2-point conversion, as they needed just seven plays to take a 7-6 lead with 6:24 left in the quarter.
London found Davon Allison on a wide-open post route for a 24-yard TD for the Raiders.
The Broncos delivered their second straight score as Rodriguez found Hearvey, who made the tip-toe catch in the back of the end zone for the 25-yard touchdown with 3:30 left in the first quarter. A 2-point conversion run by Rodriguez gave Denton the 14-7 advantage.
Denton’s defense helped win the turnover battle, as it forced two lost fumbles. The Broncos’ lone turnover was senior quarterback Cy Ward’s interception.
The Raiders then boiled up another 11-play drive that was finished off with a fading pass from London to sophomore TJ Vasher for the 12-yard touchdown with 8:41 left in the second quarter.
Denton answered with a fade of its own from Rodriguez to Hearvey for his second touchdown catch of the half, which got the Broncos back in front, 20-14, with 6:05 remaining in the half.
It didn’t take long for the Raiders to strike again as a 32-yard touchdown throw from London to Cody Taylor put them up 22-20 with 4:46 left in the half after a 2-point conversion run.
The Raiders then added two more scores, including a 56-yard touchdown run by Fleeks for a 37-20 with 10:05 left in the third, but Denton kept hanging around.
Senior Deavonte Doucet’s 9-yard touchdown run made it 37-27 with 9:51 left in the fourth, but Rider quickly matched that score with a 2-yard touchdown run from junior Quartez Carter to make it 44-27.
The Broncos got a 90-yard touchdown reception from Buris and a 3-yard touchdown to senior Adarian Harris to creep within 51-41 with 30 seconds left. They recovered the onside kick, but ran out of time.
Wichita Falls Rider 51, Denton 41
Wichita Falls Rider
DN — Ke’Von Buris 70 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Xavier Scott run failed)
WFR — Davon Allison 24 pass from Chase London (Luis Trejo kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 25 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Christian Rodriguez run)
WFR — T.J. Vasher 12 pass from Chase London (Luis Trejo kick)
DN — Key’andre Hearvey 10 pass from Christian Rodriguez (Michael Husbands run failed)
WFR — Cody Taylor 32 pass from Chase London (Bradley Goldstein run)
WFR — Carlos Fleeks 2 run (T.J. Vasher pass from Chase London)
WFR — Carlos Fleeks 56 run (Luis Trejo kick)
DN — Deavonte Doucet 9 run (Michael Husbands kick)
WFR — Quartez Carter 2 run (Luis Trejo kick)
WFR — Mar’Quavias Howard 8 pass from Chase London (Luis Trejo kick)
DN — Ke’Von Buris 90 pass from Cy Ward (Husbands kick)
DN — Adrian Harris 3 pass from Cy Ward (Husbands kick)
Rushing — DN: Xavier Scott 12-51, Deavonte Doucet 3-16, Cy Ward 5--4, Christian Rodriguez 2--4, Deandre Coleman 3--5, Ke’Von Buris 3--14, WFR: Carlos Fleeks 13-94, Quartez Carter 7-71, Josh Hatch 1-14, Jared Price 2-14, Sam Scribner 1-8, Chase London 6-3, Josh Price 1-1.
Passing — DN: Christian Rodriguez 14-23-0-290, Cy Ward 11-15-0-217, Key’andre Hearvey 0-1-0-0, WFR: Chase London 23-31-0-275.
Receiving — DN: Ke’Von Buris 8-278, Adrian Harris 8-143, Deandre Coleman 4-84, Key’andre Hearvey 6-67, Deavonte Doucet 1-4, WFR: Davon Allison 4-76, Josh Price 4-62, Cody Taylor 3-60, T.J. Vasher 7-31, Quartez Carter 2-28, Hunter Robertson 2-10, Mar’Quavias Howard 1-8.