Six weeks ago the Ryle Raiders let a big lead slip away, but was able to hold on to defeat the Campbell County Camels. In Friday's rematch that was not the case as Ryle jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 38-14 victory.
If it is true that defense wins championships, then the Raiders' effort second-round playoff action has to make them serious contenders.
Ryle (11-1) only allowed the Camels to rush for seven yards and complete 50 percent of their passes. They put pressure on quarterback Michael Kremer all night long, sacking him seven times and forcing him into four interceptions.
Senior Zach Senvisky was responsible for three of those picks. He led a defensive effort that looked as if it had something to prove.
"The first matchup we thought we played not well at all. We had to step up this week for us to get a big win," Senvisky stated. "We wanted to come out and make a statement and hopefully get some momentum going into next week."
--Postgame: Zach Senvisky, Ryle
--Highlight: Hempel-to-Thibodea TD
The Raiders found the end zone on their opening drive as senior Conner Hempel connected with classmate Taylor Thibodea for a 21-yard touchdown.
Campbell County (6-6) would start digging themselves a hole right away as Senvisky picked off Kremer for the first time on their first drive and he returned it 43 yards to give Ryle the ball at the Camels' 27-yard line. The Raiders couldn't do much with the ball though and settled for a 29-yard Garrett Mead field goal to go up 10-0.
After a the Camels turned the ball over on downs running back Travis Elliott would get into the scoring act for Ryle, opening the second quarter with a 9-yard TD run.
While the Raiders' defense continued to stymie the potent Camels' passing attack, Ryle's offense sputtered a bit. Campbell County came up with an interception followed by Rodney Goins literally ripping the ball out of Elliott's hands on the next drive to keep the score at 17-0 at the half and giving the Camels some hope of another late comeback heading into the locker room.
"We learned from that game and learned our lessons and decided to take of business when the opportunity needed it," Ryle head coach Bryson Warner said.
The Raiders' offense responded by scoring 14 unanswered points out of the locker room on the strength of a power running game and some great play-action passing. Their offensive line was dominating most of the night, but especially during the third quarter.
Deion Mullens got things started with a 13-yard scoring run followed by a Hempel to Caleb Lockard 21-yard touchdown pass.
Kremer finally got the Camels on the board at the 3:48 mark in the third quarter when he connected with Matt Smith on a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the score to 31-7.
Elliott would provide the exclamation point as he busted through the line and got to the outside on his way to a 55-yard touchdown scamper for the Raiders' final points of the night.
Elliott finished with 187 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Mullens added 110 total yards and a score. Hempel completed 10-of-16 passes for 167 yards and a pair of TD passes while being picked off once.
Kremer went 24-of-28 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Corey Cox caught 10 balls for 90 yards in the loss. Nate Geiman picked up a late 12-yard receiving touchdown off a Kremer pass.
With the win, Ryle is now set to host to Simon Kenton, who beat Henry Clay 21-19 Friday night, next week in a state quarterfinal matchup.
"We've always had a great deal of respect for each team within the district," Warner claimed. "It (Simon Kenton winning) is what we wanted. We get a home game and it is going to be a great atmosphere we are looking forward to it."
Ryle won the team's first meeting 38-35 on October 8.