Father Ryan ran away with a 45-14 win over the Spring Hill Raiders Friday in a matchup that pitted a coach against his former assistant.
The Irish — led by Coach Brian Rector — ran for five touchdowns, while the Raiders — coached Jay Emmons — had only three drives that didn’t end in punts.
Emmons was Rector’s wide receiver coach at Centennial last season.
“We had a couple guys go down this week with injuries, and that really changes how we look on the offensive front, that really changes how we look on the defensive front, and playing a lot of young kids it is really trial-by-fire for them,” Emmons said. “We are going to lick our wounds and Spring Hill has another game next week.”
A scoreless first quarter was misleading as the teams felt each other out. The second quarter was an explosion, with the teams combining for six scoring drives.
The Raiders (4-3, 1-2 Region 4-4A) scored fast and big in the quarter. Their two touchdown drives lasted a combined 34 seconds, with a 65-yard pass from TJ Ennis to Justin Oden less than a minute into the quarter and a 75- yard run by running back Dontae Smith halfway through the frame.
“They did a great job and my hat is off to them,” said Rector. “Coach Emmons does a great job.”
“We are stale and we were flat at times,” Rector stated. “If you let a receiver like that and a runner like that get out in the open they are gone against anybody.”
But the Fightin’ Irish (4-3, 0-3 Division II-AA), slow, steady and in control, scored before, in between and after the Raiders in the quarter. They were led by Jackson Byrd , who ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.
A field goal by Tony Hagey capped a long drive at the start of the second to make it 3-0. Then a 7-yard run by Elton Nkwembe ended a 5:02 drive to make it 10-7.
Nkwembe backed Byrd 17 carries for 88 yards.
“I’m happy about the win, because everyone expected us to lose,” Nkwembe said. “We really came together in the second half.”
Smith quickly scored for the Raiders to make it 14-10. He was a rare highlight for Spring Hill, with 119 rushing yards on just six carries.
The Irish re-took the lead with a 2:32 drive when Jackson Byrd scored on a 12-yard run with 3:40 left in the half.
This time, however, the Raiders stalled. Father Ryan got the ball back with just over 2 minutes left and used the rest of the half on a drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jay Scoop to Patrick Beacom.
Father Ryan led 24-10 at halftime.
Scoop passed 7-of-8 for 89 yards and a score in the first half.
In the second half, the Irish and Byrd took over.
Father Ryan opened the second half with a 55-yard drive, all on the ground, that was capped off with a 23-yard touchdown run by Byrd for a 31-14 lead.
From there, things went from bad to hopeless for the Raiders.
A high snap on a Spring Hill punt led to Father Ryan taking over at the SHHS 7 with 3:30 left in the frame.
Nkwembe scored on the next play to make it 38-14.
Byrd put the cherry on top with a 2-yard run two minutes into the fourth to give the Irish a 45-14 lead.
Spring Hill, which punted on every possession but one in the second half, will regroup.
Spring Hill hosts Region 4-4A first-place Marshall County (6-1, 3-0) next week.
Father Ryan has its biggest test of the year Friday with a matchup against Brentwood Academy.