ARLINGTON - For the third straight week, Denton Ryan seemed to be just keeping its opponent at arm's length and be content with having enough points and enough of a lead.
And for the third straight week, Mansfield Summit fought and clawed its way back to make things extremely close. But with the momentum clearly in Summit's corner, Ryan responded with key plays on defense and special teams to turn a 1-point lead to 22 in the blink of an eye.
In the end, No. 1 Ryan (14-0) advances to the State Championship for the second straight year, thanks to a 49-35 win over Summit, which sees its Cinderella run from the 4th seed in 4-5A come to a close.
Ryan jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter but never seemed like it wanted to really put its collective foot on the collective throats of Summit. Summit, which had been relishing in the underdog role through its playoff run, just inched closer and closer as the game wore on.
After punting the ball away to Summit, Ryan's defense forced a three-and-out on Summit's next drive and then blocked the punt. Hal Presley picked up the ball and tried heaving it downfield for the conversion, but the pass was incomplete and Ryan took over from the Summit 12.
Ryan boosts its lead back up to 8 and then on Summit's next drive, this...
Denton Ryan 2023 LB Anthony Hill has been rolling tonight. Gets to the quarterback on this one and forces a fumble with his active hands.— Nick Harris (@NickHarris247) January 9, 2021
Denton Ryan 42 | Mansfield Summit 27
4:29 left#TXHSFB | @305_AHILL | @thegoatanthony1 | @RyanRaiderFB pic.twitter.com/DT7cvv3cll
Ryan tacked on another score with a 19-yard run by Keori Hicks and the 1-point lead ballooned up to 22.
Now Ryan turns its attention to Cedar Park, which flipped a halftime deficit to 61-28 win over Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial. Ryan and Cedar Park play at 7 p.m. next Friday at AT&T Stadium.