Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Denton Ryan 48, Mesquite 21
MESQUITE -- Slow starts are becoming a trend for Ryan so far this season.Fortunately for the Raiders, so are fast finishes.Despite giving up two early defensive scores and suffering from a few costly mental mistakes, Ryan roared back in the second half to earn a blowout 48-21 win over Mesquite on Friday night at E.H. Hanby Stadium.
"We had to grow up offensively," Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. "We hadn't played well. We made mistakes, dropped balls, ran bad routes, we made some bad decisions. But we grew up. That's why I love these kids. The defense has been playing well, but our offense did their part tonight."
Ryan (4-0), who is currently the No. 3 team in Class 4A according to the most recent Associated Press poll, has made a habit of trailing early on in games this season. The Raiders trailed by 10 against Carrollton Newman Smith two weeks ago and by two against North Garland last week.
Both of those times, Ryan quickly had the game back in hand and led by halftime. Against Mesquite (0-4), though, the deficit was a lot scarier and weirder. The Skeeters kept pace with the Raiders not with offense, but by capitalizing on defense.
Trailing 7-0 after a first-quarter touchdown by Ryan running back Kaylon Alexander, the Skeeters evened things up after Chris Davis stepped in front of a fourth down pass by quarterback Nash Knight and went 70 yards for a touchdown. Just three minutes later, Mesquite managed to take the lead after Cole Brewster scooped up a swing pass by Knight to Jerrick Harvey that was ruled a fumble and took it 65 yards the other way.
The Raiders managed to tie the game right before the second half on a one-yard run by fullback Kamrun Bowen, but went into the locker room tied with a team they were heavily favored to beat.
In fact, Mesquite didn't gain a single total yard in the first half and didn't even pick up a first down until late in the fourth quarter.
"We've had some weird ball games this year, but that's the weirdest thing I've seen in 22 years," Florence said with a laugh. "We were in complete control of the game, I thought, and that's a credit to Mesquite. They're scrappy, and their kids didn't quit."
What was even weirder, though, was the complete change of identity the Raider offense had ruing halftime.Ryan came out of the locker room swinging, scoring on a one-yard pass from Daniel Martin to Alex De La Torre as part of Ryan's short-yardage package that kicked off a run of 34 unanswered points.
The Raiders would go on to score on a 78-yard pass from Knight to Michael Cudd, another three-yard run by Alexander, an 82-yard interception return by Jonny Paramore and a 20-yard run by Jacoby Lawson.
Paramore, meanwhile, had a solid game from his linebacker spot, recovering a fumble that set up Alexander's second half touchdown in addition to scoring on the interception return. He led a defensive unit that gave up just 57 total yards on the entire night and held the Mesquite offense scoreless until late in the game when they tacked on a touchdown with 2:37 remaining.
"We're just working really hard in practice and kind of coming together as a unit," Paramore said. "Mario [Edwards] is playing really, really well � we've got a lot of guys playing really well. We're just playing as a team. That's what coach always preaches."
Florence agreed with his linebacker's assessment."They're becoming big time," he said. "I'm proud of them. We still have some room for improvement, but I'm proud of the way these guys have been playing. If we're going to win big, we need those guys to do their jobs. They've done their parts."