When the horn for the third quarter sounded, Ryan was driving down Corsicana’s tired and cramping defense.
The horn provided a brief respite for the Tigers’ defense, a defense dealing with the Raiders’ surging offense and surging momentum.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ryan took the lead for the first and last time of the night.
Ryan’s Tyrone Williams rumbled down the field for a 35-yard touchdown run. In those seven seconds, Ryan completed an improbable comeback.
Eleven years after Ryan defeated Corsicana in one of the best playoff games in state history, Ryan pulled out the 40-28 victory on Friday night at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. It was the first game of the season for both teams. The Raiders outscored Corsicana 37-6 in the second half.
“That was a tremendous second half,” Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. “One of the best second halves I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
In the first half, nothing was going Ryan’s way. Corsicana had stormed out to a 22-0 lead before Ryan kicker Marc Orozco nailed a 33-yard field goal to send the Raiders into the locker room down 22-3.
In the locker room, there was no yelling, no raising of voices, only the coaches plotting out the second half and the comeback that ensued.
“We’re playing as a team,” Florence said of his team’s play in the second half. “There was no panic in the locker room. Everybody believed in each other. The coaches believed in the players, and the kids believed in them. I told these kids as long as we play together as a team, we’re never out of a game.”
When Ryan quarterback Mitchell Bridges scored a touchdown with 9:02 left in the game and put the Raiders ahead by nine points, Corsicana’s sideline was virtually motionless. A few players paced behind the rest of team. On the other side of the field, Ryan’s sideline had erupted, with the reserve players spilling over the sidelines.
For a brief moment, it looked like Corsicana had weathered the attack and had shifted the momentum.
Ryan fumbled, and Corsicana’s Kaley Washington scooped up the ball and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown, cutting the gap to 31-28. On the ensuing point-after attempt, any change in momentum was quickly halted.
Ryan blocked the kick, and Devante Thomas picked up the ball and stormed down the field for about 88 yards and two points.
Corsicana quarterback DeVontay Bell had 20 carries for 209 yards and three total touchdowns. Bridges had 98 yards rushing on 25 carries, while completing 16 of 20 passes for 179 yards and one interception.
Bridges weathered hit after hit on each carry, and recovered after an early interception in the first half. He had three total touchdowns, including a 28-yard pass to Trent Willis to seal the game with 1:59 left.
“The adrenaline took over,” Bridges said of the atmosphere on the sideline. “Everyone just got crazy.”
Eleven years ago, Ryan trailed 22-8 at halftime to Corsicana before coming back for the win. Eleven years later, Ryan overcame a similar deficit with a victory that was almost equally has thrilling.
“It was the best game by far,” Ryan wide receiver Xavier Gray said. “Last year was nothing like this. We were rarely ever down. Playing in a game where we were forced to come back, it was fun.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ryan 40, Corsicana 28
C — DeVontay Bell 71 run (Bell run), 10:56
C — Bobby Wallace 43 pass from Bell (David Cruz kick), 6:00
C — Bell 66 run (Cruz kick), 1:34
R — Marc Orozco 33 kick
R — Tyrone Williams 1 run (Marc Orozco kick), 9:45
R — Mitchell Bridges 1 run (Orozco kick), 2:59
R — Williams 35 run (Orozco kick), 11:53
R — Bridges 6 run (Orozco kick), 9:02
C — Kaley Washington 43 fumble return (kick failed), 4:31
R — Devante Thomas 88 blocked kick return, 4:31
R — Trent Willis 28 pass from Bridges (Orozco kick), 1:59
Rushing — C: DeVontay Bell 20-209, Kaley Washington 1-(-2), Tygarius Sheffield 8-40, Donovan Fields 7-30, Pedro Escamilla 1-10, Bobby Wallace 1-1. R: Mitchell Bridges 25-98, Tyrone Williams 3-54, A.J. Anderson 7-29, Reynal Caldwell 2-2.
Passing — C: DeVontay Bell 7-19-1-91. R: Mitchell Bridges 16-20-1-179, Preston Compton 2-2-0-0.
Receiving — C: Bobby Wallace 1-43, Justin Gibson 2-12, Alonzo Gipson 2-17, Jordan Lewis 1-17. R: Xavier Gray 9-83, Reynal Caldwell 3-4, Trent Willis 3-60, Kevin Ray 1-7, Daniel Telaneus 1-15, RobertConner 1-4.