SOUTHLAKE — No matter how far ahead Cedar Hill pulled ahead in Saturday’s Class 5A Division II area playoff game and the clock hopelessly ticked down, Ryan refused to go away and take its playoff chances with it.
If the Raiders were going to be knocked out of the postseason, they were going to be knocked out in the same exhilarating fashion they had gotten them this far, where it seemed every game came down to the final quarter.
When the clock finally ran out, the Longhorns had defeated Ryan 48-35 at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium, ending the Raiders’ 13th consecutive playoff run. Ryan finished the season with a record of 7-4, while Cedar Hill (8-4) advances to play Arlington in the regional semifinals.
Ryan outscored the Longhorns by eight points in the second half. However, Cedar Hill’s offense proved to be too explosive for Ryan to contain. In their final game, the Raiders allowed the most points they had all season.
“I didn’t think we played great defense, but they were a great offensive team,” Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. “I don’t know how much it was us as it was them.”
Cedar Hill junior quarterback Damion Hobbs, who is orally committed to Arkansas State, played a nearly flawless game. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns while running for another. All three passing touchdowns went to senior wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, who is orally committed to. Texas A&M. Adeboyejo finished with nine catches for 114 yards.
The Longhorns also have two more Football Bowl Subdivision recruits on its offense — running back Laquivonte Gonzalez (Texas A&M) and wide receiver Brandon Harris (Iowa State).
After moving up from Class 4A last season to 5A and coming off a regional semifinals loss to Waco Midway in 2011, the Raiders almost returned to where they were last year — this time at the state’s highest level.
In the first quarter, the Cedar Hill jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after Larry Hill scored on a 1-yard run. The touchdown came after the Longhorns recovered an onside kick after its first touchdown.
Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire said he called for the surprise onside kick knowing that his team needed to put up a slew of points to beat Ryan.
“I told my offensive coordinator in the second quarter, ‘Don’t take your foot off the gas,’ because we weren’t playing very good defense,” McGuire said.
The Raiders had trouble stopping the Longhorns’ attack all afternoon, but their offense continued to keep them team in the contest.
Some of the points came from unlikely sources. Junior defensive end J.T. Williams hauled in a touchdown pass in the second half while on offense, and junior kicker Marc Orozco threw a pass on fake field-goal attempt to Jonathan Jackson for a 6-yard touchdown on Ryan’s first drive of the second half, keeping its hopes flickering.
Raiders junior quarterback Mitchell Bridges had his best performance of the season. He completed 13 of 19 passes for a season-high 226 yards and a touchdown.
Coming into the game, McGuire, who is good friends with the Florence, knew what kind of coach he’d be up against and the program that had been a powerhouse in Class 4A over the last decade.
“It’s really one of the toughest games we’ve played,” McGuire said. “We started the week off telling our guys what Denton Ryan was all about. You’re playing a team that’s played in the state championship game five times in the decade, and we knew we were going to have to play four quarters, and we knew it was going to be tough.”
Late in the fourth quarter, senior Reynal Caldwell took a reverse handoff from the right side and saw the left side he was headed toward was completely blocked off. He switched directions, cut up the middle of the field and scored from 20 yards out, keeping the Raiders in the game and in contention to play another week.
“We never quit,” Caldwell said. “That’s one thing about us. It’s just who we are. We hate losing.”
That was the last time Ryan scored. The Raiders couldn’t eliminate the 13-point gap in the final 4:29 despite an exciting finish befitting a team whose will was finally bucked by the Longhorns on Saturday afternoon.
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Cedar Hill 48, Ryan 35
Ryan 7 7 14 7 — 35
Cedar Hill 14 21 7 6 — 48
CH — Quincy Adeboyejo 2 pass from Damion Hobbs (Brooks Ralph kick)
CH — Larry Hill 1 run (Ralph kick)
R — Tyrone Williams 2 run (Marc Orozco kick)
CH — Adeboyejo 28 pass from Hobbs (Ralph kick)
R — J.T. Williams 3 pass from Mitchell Bridges (Orozco kick)
CH — Hobbs 4 run (Ralph kick)
CH — Adeboyejo 13 pass from Hobbs (Ralph kick)
R — Jonathan Jackson 6 pass from Orozco (Orozco kick)
CH — Laquvionte Gonzalez 13 run (Ralph kick)
R — Tyrone Williams 1 run (Orozco kick)
CH — Laquvionte Gonzalez 13 run (kick failed)
R — Reynal Caldwell 20 run (Orozco kick)
First Downs 18 26
Rushing Yards 33-148 53-236
Passing Yards 232 242
Passing 14-20-0 16-19-0
Punts-Avg 1-51.00 0-0.00
Penalties 3-10 4-24
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Rushing — CH: Larry Hill 25-112, Laquvionte Gonzalez 11-86, Damion Hobbs 11-36, Bobby Jackson 5-9, Stat Team 1--7, DR: Tyrone Williams 15-72, Mitchell Bridges 14-59, Reynal Caldwell 2-22, Kevin Ray Jr. 1--2, Maurice Gordon 1--3.
Passing — CH: Damion Hobbs 16-19-0-242, DR: Mitchell Bridges 13-19-0-226, Marc Orozco 1-1-0-6.
Receiving — CH: Quincy Adeboyejo 9-114, Travis Wilson 4-74, Brandon Harris 2-42, Laquvionte Gonzalez 1-12, DR: Xavier Gray 2-70, Reynal Caldwell 2-53, Trent Willis 4-50, Kevin Ray Jr. 3-48, Jonathan Jackson 1-6, J.T. Williams 1-3, Robert Conner 1-2.