Denton, Texas -- Special teams miscues threatened to make Denton Ryan’s (Denton, Texas) stay in the POWERADE FAB 50 a short one on Saturday. But the nation’s No. 47-ranked team overcame two botched extra-point attempts and a missed two-point conversion to defeat Sulphur Springs (Sulphur Springs, Texas) 25-9 at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in a game televised on ESPN.
Ryan’s ballyhooed defense, led by the nation’s No. 1 player in defensive end Mario Edwards (Florida State) and two top linebackers in Alex De La Torre (Texas) and Jordan Richmond (Texas A&M), held the Wildcats to just 155 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 77-yard run by Kendrick Daniels in the first quarter.
“Me and Jordan line people up, then you have Mario, who is the big playmaker,” De La Torre said. “We play great as a team. There is no individuality with us.”
It was Edwards' second sack of Sulphur Springs quarterback Justin Owens that really put the game away. He jarred the ball loose with a blindside hit that linebacker Taylor Greer recovered in the endzone for a 25-9 lead with under four minutes left in the third.
Jerrick Harvey had a workmanlike 113 yards on 28 carries and a touchdowns for Ryan, one of eight Texas teams to appear in the preseason FAB 50. Daniels finished with 104 yards rushing.
Ryan’s offense set the tone early by running on each of its first six plays on the game’s opening drive, which it capped with a 16-yard score by senior quarterback Kevin Carpenter. But a bad snap on the extra point turned into a fumble that Sulphur Springs’ Tevin Norris returned for two points.
Ryan held Sulphur Springs on a fourth-and-1 from its 17 with 4:25 left in the first quarter, but missed a 47-yard field goal on its next possession. One play later Kendrick Daniels went untouched 70 yards for a touchdown to give Sulphur Springs a 9-6 lead with 21 seconds left in first quarter.
Sam Johnson hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass from Carpenter with 5:34 left in the second to give Ryan a 12-6 lead (extra point was blocked). Jerrick Harvey kept drive alive with a nine-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Wildcats 16.
Harvey scored from three yards out as time expired in the first half to give Ryan an 18-9 lead (two-point conversion missed). A few plays earlier, Richmond, the No. 6 outside linebacker in 2012, ran for 24 yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Wildcats’ 29.
Players that impressed
RB Jerrick Harvey, Denton Ryan: Was the definition of “workhorse” for the Raiders.
DE Mario Edwards, Denton Ryan: Nation’s top player didn’t disappoint with two sacks and a forced fumble.
LB Taylor Greer, Denton Ryan: Greer, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior linebacker, was everywhere, including in the endzone to recover a fumble for a touchdown.
RB Kendrick Daniels, Sulphur Springs: Daniels used his blazing speed to break off a 77-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, one of the Wildcats’ lone offensive highlights.
William Wilkerson is a staff writer for HornsNation.com