LEWISVILLE — With two of its quarterbacks injured and another quarterback sick, Ryan turned to senior wide receiver Kevin Ray to lead its offense in a game it desperately needed to win.
The efforts of Ray, a fake punt and the rushing attack of junior Tyrone Williams helped Ryan escape Goldsmith Stadium with a 28-24 District 5-5A victory over Lewisville on Friday night.
The win moves the Raiders (4-3, 2-1 district) one step closer to clinching a playoff berth, while the loss virtually erased the Farmers’ postseason hopes.
Following the game, Ryan head coach Joey Florence took the game ball and delivered it into the hands of Ray — the same hands Florence entrusted the team’s offense with.
“Kevin is the ultimate team player,” Florence said. “We moved him to receiver early in the year. He struggled with that but played great at receiver. I don’t remember having a kid come off the bench and lead us like he did with so much on the game. I just can’t say enough about his character.”
Ray finished the game completing five of eight passes for 64 yards. Williams had 123 yards on 22 carries and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:07 left, bruising his way into the end zone on a 3-yard carry. It was his fifth straight run of the drive.
Ryan starting junior quarterback Mitchell Bridges left the game in the third quarter and didn’t return. Lewisville senior running back Deandre Brown had 227 yards on 22 carries and injured his ankle in the fourth quarter and did not return.
After Lewisville (1-7, 0-3) had a 26-yard field goal attempt blocked on its first possession of the third quarter, Ryan got the ball on its own 20. On second-and-9, Bridges scrambled for 3 yards and was hit awkwardly. He rested for a few moments before walking off with most of his weight on his left leg.
Following the game, Bridges was on crutches and had a bandage around his right knee. The injury to Bridges added to Ryan’s quarterback woes.
Second-string quarterback and junior wide receiver Xavier Gray injured his ankle in the first half, and junior Preston Compton was out because of illness, leaving Florence with Ray as essentially his only option.
At halftime, Ray said offensive coordinator Conroy Hines told him to be ready to play quarterback in the second half, just in case anything happened to Bridges. Bridges had already missed three games this season with a fractured fibula.
“I was kind of nervous, but I just tried to step up and do what I can for the team,” Ray said.
On Ryan’s game-winning drive, the biggest pass of the game came from junior linebacker Cole Carpenter.
Ryan was facing fourth-and 6 at the Lewisville 49-yard line. Florence said it had been a long time since he called a fake punt, but he decided to use it when the Raiders needed a big play.
Carpenter took the ball and lofted it into the air for wide receiver Daniel Telaneus, who twirled around looking for the ball in the air. He found it right before the ball hit his hands and he was crushed by two Farmers. Telaneus held on, and Ryan picked up the first down.
“I think it was the difference in the game,” Florence said. “We’ve got to get something happening right there, and that was big.”
Besides the injury problems plaguing them, the Raiders had to overcome a game in which they lost two fumbles in a woeful second quarter.
Ryan looked certain to build a 14-point lead at the start of the quarter. A.J. Anderson was unable to get past Lewisville’s defensive line and was stopped near the goal line.
Then, on the ensuing drive, Lewisville was forced to punt from its own end zone and Ryan’s Reynal Caldwell got a hand on the punt as it fluttered 10 yards up the field. The Raiders tried to pick it up and run with it but never got a grasp of the ball.
Lewisville recovered, and Brown busted a 92-yard TD run down the left sideline.
Farmers quarterback Matt McDougal found Frederick Campbell on a 4-yard TD pass with 37 seconds left in the half for a 21-14 halftime lead.
But in the unlikeliest of comebacks, Ryan recovered to keep its playoff hopes alive. After the game, Ray had his jersey off and grinned broadly, cradling the game ball in his left arm.
The Raiders have games left against Coppell and Flower Mound to close out the season.
“We’re just stepping up,” Ray said. “We’re trying to get our ticket to the blue star.”
The blue star Ray referenced is what’s painted on midfield at Arlington’s Cowboys Stadium, where Ryan hopes to be playing playoff football when the season ends.
Ryan 28, Lewisville 24
R — Alex Funches fumble recovery in end zone, 11:46
R — Mitchell Bridges 1 run (Marc Orozco kick), 6:47
L — Deandre Brown1 run (Tluang Hmung kick), 2:16
L — Brown 92 run (Hmung kick), 6:14
L — Frederick Campbell 4 pass from Matt McDougal (Hmung kick), :37
R — Tyrone Williams 5 run (Orozco kick), 4:03
L — Hmung 35 FG, 11:49
R — Williams 3 run, 3:07
Rushing — R: Tyrone Williams 22-123, Mitchell Bridges 11-46, Xavier Gray 1-5, A.J. Anderson 8-39, Kevin Ray 5-11, Team 3-(-)24. L: Ahkeel Guy 6-10, Deandre Brown 20-227, Jaden Wright 1-(-)1, Cameron Shauf 7-32, Matt McDougal 2-(-)5, Quay Bradford 1-(-)9.
Passing — R: Mitchell Bridges 2-3-0 13, Kevin Ray 5-8-0 64, Cole Carpenter 1-1-0 19. L: Matt McDougal 8-18-0 87.
Receiving — R: Trent Willis 5-47, Alec Burton 1-12, Robert Conner 1-18, Daniel Telaneus 1-19. L: Cameron Creal 4-59, Deandre Brown 1-10, Jordan Jorgenson 1-14, Jocqui Davis 1-0, Frederick Campbell 1-4.