WICHITA FALLS — For the entire second half of Ryan’s game against Wichita Falls Rider on Thursday night, senior wide receiver Trent Willis stood on the sidelines and cheered on his team.
It didn’t take long before senior quarterback Mitchell Bridges joined him. The rest of Ryan’s starters joined the pair as the second half progressed.
After what Bridges and Willis did in the first half, there was no need to step back onto the field.
Ryan scored on five of its first six possessions and cruised to a 42-10 victory over Rider at Wichita Falls’ Memorial Stadium. Ryan posts back-to-back victories to start the season and avenged a loss to Rider at home in 2012.
Prior to kickoff, Bridges told Willis the team needed a big game through the air.
“We’ve been talking all week about big plays and stuff and that’s what we needed, and he came through,” Bridges said.
Willis finished Thursday night’s game with three touchdowns and a career-high 143 receiving yards on five catches. Willis was a yard away from a fourth touchdown, but he was dragged down and was forced to settle for a 51-yard completion instead — not that Willis was complaining afterward.
“Go with what God gave you, man,” Willis said. “You can’t be too greedy.”
Bridges completed 10 of 15 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns and carried the ball six times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Bridges handed over his duties to junior Shomari Cann for much of the second half.
Last week against Corsicana, Ryan (2-0) predominantly ran the ball and was led by senior Tyrone Williams’ 214 rushing yards. This week, Williams carried the ball 14 times for 99 yards, but the spotlight was on the passing game.
“In all the film that we got, [Ryan head coach Joey Florence] was heavy on the run,” Rider head coach Jim Garfield said. “We loaded it up trying to take away the run, and Coach Flo and his offensive staff did a good job of executing their game plan.”
On Ryan’s first possession, the team was facing third-and-12 when Bridges threw the ball to Willis, who evaded defenders and was dragged down a yard short of the goal line. Bridges rumbled forward on the ensuing play to take a 7-0 lead with 9:11 to go in the quarter.
Rider quickly answered when quarterback Chase London found Josh Price for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Early in the second quarter, Bridges lofted a ball to the back right corner of the end zone. Willis caught it in stride to put the Raiders up 21-7 and push the momentum in the visitors’ favor for good.
Last week, Rider senior wide receiver Davon Allison tied a school record with 266 receiving yards in the team’s victory over Abilene Cooper.
Allison was much more subdued on Thursday night. The senior finished with one catch for 8 yards and played quarterback for much of the second half. Allison and London each threw an interception, with those picks going to Ryan’s Ronnie Coleman and Robert Connor, respectively.
Florence said he was well aware of what London and the Rider offense did against Cooper.
“It was good to see them because we knew London was going to come out and throw at us,” Florence said. “We had to work on our pass defense, and I think we’ve improved. Early in the scrimmages, we were not really good. That was another area we needed to improve in, and I think we played really well.”
As for Ryan’s offensive tandem, they were on the sidelines for a majority of the second half while their backups toiled under a cloudless sky. Ryan finishes up a three-game road trip next week at Wylie East, another team that defeated Ryan in 2012.
“We’re looking really good early in the year,” Willis said. “Our mindsets will be different than what they were last year. We came out 1-1, not knowing what we’re going to do. Coming out 2-0, we’re looking really good right now.”
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Ryan 42, Wichita Falls Rider 10
R — Mitchell Bridges 1 run (Marc Orozco kick)
WFR — Josh Price 5 pass from Chase London (Luis Trejo kick)
R — Trent Willis 6 pass from Mitchell Bridges (Marc Orozco kick)
R — Trent Willis 25 pass from Mitchell Bridges (Marc Orozco kick)
R — Trent Willis 23 pass from Mitchell Bridges (Marc Orozco kick)
R — Maurice Gordon 16 run (Marc Orozco kick)
R — Xavier Gray 1 run (Marc Orozco kick)
WFR — Luis Trejo 23 FG
Rushing — R: Tyrone Williams 14-99, Mitchell Bridges 6-45, Shomari Cann 3-32, Maurice Gordon 9-32, Matthew Wagganer 1-25, Xavier Gray 6-19, Preston Compton 1-13, Paul Hunter 2-2, Wesley Ellis 1--1, Team Stat 2--11, WFR: Josh Hatch 7-33, Quartez Carter 8-30, Carlos Fleeks 9-28, Davon Allison 3-7, Chase London 1--2.
Passing — R: Mitchell Bridges 10-15-0-187, Shomari Cann 0-1-0-0, WFR: Chase London 8-18-1-111, Davon Allison 4-5-1-26.
Receiving — R: Trent Willis 5-143, Matthew Wagganer 1-14, Xavier Gray 1-12, Preston Compton 2-10, Jordan Murray 1-8, WFR: Josh Price 4-47, T.J. Vasher 1-41, Cody Taylor 2-19, Jared Price 1-14, Davon Allison 1-8, Hunter Robertson 2-5, Josh Hatch 1-3.