Ryle star running back, Travis Elliot, had to wait a little bit longer than the rest of his teammates to start his 2011 teammates. The standout senior sat the entire first quarter of the Raiders' first game against Cooper Friday night.
It didn't take him long to make his mark on the game once he entered at the beginning of the second quarter though.
Elliot scored on a screen pass that he took 48 yards for the score on just his third touch of the game to break a 0-0 tie early in the second quarter. The touchdown would mark his first of five that he would eventually score as he dazzled the fans in attendance with big run after big run.
"He was fresh. He was ready to go," Ryle head coach Bryson Warner said about his star running back. "He's a guy we're doing a lot of different things with. He's going to be hard to defend all season."
After Elliot's first score, Ryle was looking to add another touchdown before halftime. New Raider quarterback Nathan Davis, who was making his first start for Ryle, marched the Ryle offense near midfield but as he dropped back from his own 43 his ensuing pass was picked off by Cooper safety Tyler Morris. Morris returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to tie the game up at 7-7 with 19 seconds left in the half.
Elliot wasn't content to go into the locker rooms tied up.
Following an average kickoff return, a keeper by Davis got Ryle out to their own 38 yard line. With .9 left on the clock, Ryle called a simple draw up the middle for Elliot. Sixty-two yards later, Elliot had his second touchdown to put Ryle back on top 14-7 heading into halftime.
"They had their linebackers and secondary back deep and only three down linemen so I was just following my lead block Mac Vollett and he led me into the end zone," Elliot said.
The second half started off the same way the first ended, with Elliot finding the endzone on a long, impressive run. This time it was the opening kickoff of the half that Elliot took 85 yards for the score to extend Ryle's lead to 20-7 after a missed extra point attempt.
"Right when I got it on the right side, the seam was just open and I just bursted for it," Elliot said about the kickoff return.
Nearly three minutes later, it was Davis' turn to get in on the scoring act for the Raiders. After marching the team into the redzone, the junior signal-caller shook off four would-be tacklers on his way to a 24-yard touchdown. He then tossed a successful two-point conversion pass to put the Raiders up 28-7.
Both defenses started bearing down a little bit after that. The teams exchanged possessions a few times and it would be the middle of the fourth quarter before anyone would score again.
Not surprisingly, that next score came from Elliot. Taking a direct snap out of the shotgun due to Davis being injured on the previous play, Elliot scored from 24 yards out with 5:50 left in the game.
Cooper responded with a nice drive that culminated in a 35-yard field goal from Senior kicker Michael Hollifield.
Elliot had one more run in him as he took another direct snap filling in for Davis and turned it into another touchdown after a 72-yard scamper. Elliot's final run left him with five touchdowns and 173 yards on just 12 carries, plus an 85 yard kickoff return.
"I'm must following my blocks," Elliot said, deflecting attention after the game when asked about his success.
Davis added 97 yards and a score on 19 carries to go along with 88 yards through the air while completing 5-of-14 attempts. Warner said after the game that Davis' injury was not serious and that he was "fine."
"He's an excellent leader. He handles the football well and makes good decisions. His first night here at Ryle on the big stage - he did a great job for us," Warner said about his quarterback.
Cooper was led by running back AJ Collins who carried 14 times for 87 yards and scored a late touchdown with under a minute to play in the game to make the final score 41-17.
Morris tacked on 61 yards on 20 carries from both the quarterback and running back positions for the Jaguars.
--Interview: Jake Nutter
--Interview: Travis Elliott
--Interview: Bryson Warner
*Written by: Rick Broering, TriStateFootball.com