Facing a fourth-and-13 from deep in its own territory with less than two minutes left, Guyer had one final chance to keep the game against Ryan alive.

The Wildcats had been hesitant to throw the ball all night, as quarterback Eli Stowers was under constant duress from the Raiders’ dominant defense.

So, on the game’s most pivotal play, Guyer dialed up a run to BJ Phillips. But he was swarmed by Ryan defenders five yards short of the first down marker, as the Raiders held on to beat the Wildcats 23-20 on Friday in the first meeting between the two teams since 2015.

“We had a little trouble protecting [Stowers] tonight,” Guyer coach Rodney Webb said. “We’ve got a quarterback that has come off a major knee surgery. I’m not that crazy about him getting sacked six or seven times. There was an absolute reluctance to throw the ball because we couldn’t block them tonight.

“[Ryan] is very good. I tip my hat to them.”

Stowers, who threw the ball 18 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns last week, attempted just 10 passes for 39 yards. He attempted only three passes in the second half, completing one of them.

The Texas A&M commit was sacked several times.

“I told our staff coming into the game that we were not going to forsake the health of our quarterback for an opportunity to throw the ball if we couldn’t block them,” Webb said. “We were very reluctant to throw the ball tonight. The other thing is they did a good job of slowing our run-pass option game, and they were able to put six in the box and hold up.”

Guyer managed just seven first downs the entire game, totaling 223 yards. BJ Phillips accounted for the majority of the Wildcats’ offense, running for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Phillips broke off a 76-yard run late in the first quarter to give Guyer a 10-7 lead, and later found the end zone from a yard out with 7:25 left in the third quarter.

His last touchdown pulled the Wildcats to within 23-20, but that was as close as they came, as Ryan’s defense clamped down.

“We’re pretty good up front,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. “We utilize our speed to our advantage. They’re bigger than we are, and so we felt like we had to move our front. It was effective. It was a really good game between two really good teams.”

Ryan improved to 5-3 all time in the rivalry series with Guyer and has now won two straight games against the Wildcats.

But Webb was adamant afterward that although the loss is disappointing, it would not dictate the rest of their season.

“I told them two things,” Webb said. “No. 1, this game will not define us either way. I reminded them of Southlake last year, on this field. No. 2, we all share the credit in a victory, and we all share the blame in a defeat. And it starts with me. It goes to our coaching staff and filters down to our players. We’re going to own it.”

REECE WADDELL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @ReeceWaddell15.

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