MIDLAND, Texas – The Wichita Falls Rider Raiders scored 14-unanswered points to end the first half, turning a close game late in the second quarter into a Rider rout Thursday night at Grande Communications Stadium in the Class 5A DII area round.
Rider racked up 499 total yards of offense, they had 21 first downs, while athlete Nick Darcus was unstoppable on offense and on special teams.
Rider jumped out to a 21-0 lead after a 70-yard run by Darcus on a reverse with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter, adding to a quick start by Rider which buried Hanks in the end.
The Raiders scored on their first four possessions of the game.
Hanks’ offense settled in and put a pair of scores on the board to make things close despite the strong start by Rider.
Aaron Molina capped of a lengthy Hanks drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 8:34 left in the second quarter. Then after the Hanks defense forced a three-and-out, Molina hooked up with Mykal Blanco for 56-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead 21-14 Rider with 7:06 left until halftime.
Nick Darcus took the ensuing kickoff 62-yards, setting up Rider with a short field and two plays later Rodriguez found Jed Castles for a short fade pattern for another touchdown to cap off an 18-yard scoring drive.
Rodriguez sent the game into the halftime break with the Raiders leading 35-14 after another touchdown pass, this time Ranse Radtke scored from 9-yards out with a little over a minute left to play in the opening half.
Rodriguez threw three first half touchdowns, the first was a 62-yard score to Darcus who zig-zagged through the Hanks defense for the early score.
The junior signal caller threw his fourth touchdown on Rider’s first second half possession, and 7-yard pass to Castles put the Raiders up 42-14 with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
Rider sacked Hanks quarterback Aaron Molina seven times and picked off a key pass late in the second quarter while Hanks was driving in Rider territory.
Molina finished the game 29-for-43 passing for 366 yards and two touchdowns. Mykal Blanco ended his Hanks career with a huge game. El Paso’s all-time leading receiver caught 14 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
But the big plays from Rider proved well to much for Hanks who was in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
Rodriguez went 12-for-14 passing, 270 yards and four touchdowns. Darcus caught seven passes for 169 yards, a touchdown, plus the rushing touchdown and two long kickoff returns longer than 60-yards.
Rider will await the winner of Parkland-Wichita Falls High in the Regional Quarterfinals, Hanks seasons ends at 6-5.