Ryle pulls away from Highlands in second half
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands sophomore Braden Posey (87) breaks off a long run in the first half against Ryle.|
That had been the case most of the time during a 113-7 run with seven state championships and a runner-up finish between last year and 2007. But it has not been the case this year.
In its latest loss in its first 1-3 start since 2007, the Ryle Raiders pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 48-24 victory. Highlands has not lost back-to-back games since 2006.
"We just need to step it up," said Austin Beal, Highlands senior defensive back. "There is no way around it. We play as a team. But as of now, we're falling apart. The seniors need to get going with the younger guys. That's basically it."
Ryle outgained Highlands, 545-267 in a battle of balanced Spread teams. The Raiders had 26 first downs to 12 for the Bluebirds.
Senior running backs Mitchell Bateman and Colin England had the majority of the Ryle rushing yards. Bateman rushed for 147 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns with England going for 100 yards on eight carries and a score.
Ryle junior quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 22-of-37 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. Senior Grant Beagle had six catches for 71 yards and Jake Long added four for 104 yards.
"We had some opportunities to get them off the field," said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. "They made the plays and we didn't. That's what it comes down to. We'll move on and get better."
The Bluebirds put together a few scoring drives, but still is not moving the ball the way teams have in the past. Highlands rushed for just 72 yards as a team. Quarterback Austin Hergott completed 15-of-28 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
Chandler New led Highlands with four catches for 49 yards with Eric Miller nabbing three for 74 yards. The two had one touchdown each with TJ Sipple hauling in two for 46 yards and a score.
The tough quarter for the Bluebirds came in the third. Highlands recorded just four yards of total offense and no first downs in that stanza.
Highlands senior Jared Dougherty made all three extra-point tries and his lone field goal attempt. The three PATs give him 170 for his career. That ties Brennan Jones for the most in school history.
Dougherty hit the field goal with 7:29 left in the first quarter to put Highlands up 3-0. But Ryle answered when England scored from six yards out to put the Raiders up 7-3 with 4:48 left in the quarter.
That lead did not last long. Miller streaked down the right sideline and Hergott hit him for a 61-yard score to put Highlands up 10-7 with 3:59 left in the first.
But Ryle drove down the field and scored on 4th-and-goal. Bateman took a sweep left and scored with 11:30 left in the second to put the Raiders up 14-10.
The Bluebirds threatened to score later in the quarter as Braden Posey took a reverse 27 yards to the Ryle 9. A hit out of bounds put the ball between the 4 and 5. But Highlands fumbled the ball back to Ryle.
Following an interception, Mason Molique hit a 24-yard field goal to give Ryle a 17-10 lead. But Hergott threw a 23-yard touchdown to New with 50 seconds left in the half to tie the game at 17.
Ryle went on a long drive to open the third quarter before Molique hit a 32-yard field goal with 6:56 left to give Highlands the lead for good at 20-17. Ryle drove to the Highlands 11 with 1:57 left before fumbling it over to the Bluebirds.
The Raiders put the game away in the fourth quarter. Morgan hit Bryce Ashley for a 16-yard score with 9:49 left in the game before Bateman broke free for a 31-yard score on 4th-and-1 with 7:43 left in the game to put Ryle up 34-17.
"It's nothing new we haven't seen. Ryle has the exact same formation we've seen out of them the last 10 years," Beal said. "We're not lining up right. We're just going through the motions. You can't be doing that."
Hergott found Sipple for a 28-yard strike with 5:34 left in the game to trim the margin to 34-24. But the Raiders pulled away when Bateman scored from nine yards out and Jake Chisholm ran it in from a yard out with 43 seconds left.
Highlands takes on Louisville St. Xavier (2-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. back in Fort Thomas. Louisville Central beat the Tigers, 20-17 on Friday.