Even when the Ryan Raiders looked certain to put a district loss on its ledger, they kept enough poise to leave the window of a comeback against Hebron slightly ajar.
Even when the clock read all zeroes and both teams were in the process of shaking hands and exchanging greetings at midfield, it looked as if the officials were going to let Ryan have one last play at the Hebron 11-yard line with one second left, a blessing given because of an error on the scoreboard.
But that window was firmly shut as the head official said, “Ballgame,” and Hebron handed Ryan a 14-9 loss at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex on Friday night. It was the first District 5-5A loss for Ryan and the first district win for Hebron.
Ryan committed four turnovers and five critical penalties against the Hawks (4-3, 1-1 district) and failed to score an offensive touchdown.
“We just made too many mistakes to win,” Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. “You can’t make those mistakes and beat teams like this.”
Ryan junior quarterback Mitchell Bridges completed 11 of 18 passes for 115 yards and two interceptions. Bridges also had 18 carries for 70 yards. Hebron’s Braelen Evans had 19 carries for 104 yards to anchor the Hawks’ attack.
Leading 14-3 late in the fourth quarter, Hebron was trapped inside its 5-yard line. The Hawks botched a handoff exchange, and Ryan senior defensive lineman Desmond Oliver picked up the ball at the 2-yard line and fell into the end zone for Ryan’s only touchdown of the night and sparking life into the almost-dead Raiders.
Oliver’s first career touchdown was barely celebrated, save for a few slaps on Oliver’s head from junior defensive lineman J.T. Williams.
“You have to act like you’ve been there before, right?” Oliver said.
Ryan missed the 2-point conversion and the onside kick, and after three large losses to kill the clock, Hebron was set to punt with three seconds left, and neither team had any timeouts.
The clock started late, and as a Hebron player was tackled around the Hawks’ 11-yard line, the clock still had one second on it.
The referees originally had called the game over, but as the teams were shaking hands, the officials thought otherwise for a brief moment. The players scrambled back to their respective sidelines, and the two head coaches met with the officials on the field to discuss the situation.
When the conversation finished, Ryan didn’t receive a final opportunity to come away with the win.
Hebron halted a large amount of Ryan’s momentum with 4:21 left in the third quarter, spoiling Ryan’s best offensive drive of the game.
The Raiders were faced with a fourth-and-2 at the Hebron 6-yard line. Instead of opting for the field goal, Florence decided to go for the first down. Junior running back Tyrone Williams fought for the 2 yards, but when the measurement was taken after the play, Ryan was inches short and Hebron received the ball.
“I thought we had it made it,” Florence said. “It was big, it was big. I thought it was a bad spot, but I’d have to go back and look at it on film.”
Williams finished with 18 carries for 79 yards in a very physical game.
The Hawks opened the game’s scoring in the second quarter when junior quarterback Carson Proffitt hit senior tight end Riley Ransom for a 14-yard touchdown.
Hebron quickly doubled its lead on Ryan’s ensuing possession.
Bridges threw a quick pass to senior wide receiver Daniel Telaneus, but the pass hit off Telaneus and hung in the air long enough for Hebron senior linebacker Gavin Burford to snag the ball and return it for a 31-yard touchdown.
Ryan responded right before the halftime break. Bridges withstood some crushing hits and put the Raiders in field-goal range. With the flags on the south of the stadium completely still, Ryan kicker Marc Orozco’s 48-yard field goal barely cleared the crossbar and made the deficit 14-3 with no time remaining in the first half.
The 14 points Hebron scored in the second quarter was all the points the visiting team needed on a night where both teams combined to score only one offensive touchdown.
“I felt like we controlled the game,” Bridges said. “We just couldn’t finish it on our end. The defense played a hell of a game. We never stopped fighting.”
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Hebron 14, Ryan 9
H — Riley Ranson 14 pass from Carson Proffitt (Joel Carlos kick), 3:09
H — Gavin Burford 31 yard interception return (Carlos kick), 1:47
R — Marc Orozco 48 FG, 0:00
R — Desmond Oliver 2 fumble return (run failed), 2:06
Rushing — H: Braelen Evans 19-104, Carson Proffitt 6-(-)35, Vandy Parkes 4-32, Jamal Adams 3-15, Team 3-(-)24; R: Mitchell Bridges 18-70, Tyrone Williams 18-79, Reynal Caldwell 2-(-)2, A.J. Anderson 1-9, Xavier Gray 1-8, Maurice Gordon 1-2.
Passing — H: Carson Proffitt 8-12-0 88; R – Mitchell Bridges 11-18-2 115, 0-1-1 0.
Receiving — H: Shawn Slowinski 2-12, Riley Ransom 2-38, Austin Morgenstern 1-4, Vandy Parkes 2-27, Braelen Evans 1-7; R: Kevin Ray 3-45, Xavier Gray 5-40, Daniel Telaneus 2-14, Trent Willis 1-16.