WACO — Ryan’s Kalib Hicks holds himself to a high standard these days. Needless to say, the junior running back was irate at himself when he inexplicably ran out of bounds with less than a minute to play and his team trying to run out the clock.
“I was like, ‘What are you doing? Stay in bounds … run out the clock,’” Hicks said.
Hicks didn’t make the same mistake twice. On the very next play, he took a handoff on third-down-and-9 and again bounced to the outside — this time turning up field for a 14-yard gain to nab the first down and ice a dramatic 28-20 win over Magnolia West on Saturday in a Class 5A Division I area round game at Waco ISD Stadium.
Hicks finished with 105 rushing yards and a touchdown for Ryan. The Raiders led by as many as 21 points before Magnolia West scored two second-half touchdowns — including one with 1:43 left on the clock.
“[Magnolia West] never stopped playing. We had to grind that thing out and make plays,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said.
“Our kids just battled. In Region II, even in the second round, you’re going to have to go to work.”
The win sets up a rematch next week between Ryan and Longview, which went from having never played each other to now preparing for their third meeting in two seasons. That game is set for 3 p.m. Friday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
Ryan won last year’s third-round meeting and beat the Lobos in the season opener this year.
“We’re going to go back to work and prepare for Longview [again],” Hicks said.
Saturday’s game was shaping up to be a blowout early on as Ryan set out to big-play Magnolia West out of the stadium.
The plan worked, as Hicks broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown run with 2:34 left in the first quarter. A little more than a minute later, quarterback Khalon Davis found Michael Davis wide open down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
Both of those scores came on one-play drives.
The score remained that way until the 5:49 mark of the second quarter, when Garyreon Robinson found a seam and raced 57 yards untouched for another score — this one giving Ryan a 21-0 lead.
Khalon Davis finished with 165 yards through the air and the lone touchdown. Michael Davis caught six of those passes for 105 yards while Robinson added 61 rushing yards and a score on just two carries.
“It was an emphasis to be aggressive early to try and take advantage of some of the things we saw,” Henigan said.
But as the game wore on, the big plays were less and less frequent. And Magnolia West kept getting chances on offense.
Hunter Bilbo, who finished with 124 rushing yards on 18 carries, scored on a 7-yard run with 1:10 left in the first half to trim the deficit to 21-7. With 4:50 left in the third quarter and Ryan suddenly struggling to pick up first downs, the Mustangs capped another impressive scoring drive when Brock Dalton found Sam Mattingly for an 8-yard touchdown.
With the game suddenly on the line, Ryan’s offense found a rhythm and began picking up yards in chunks. In a drive that started with 9:03 left in the game, Khalon Davis found Austin Jordan for a 10-yard catch and run followed by an 18-yard pass play to Jordyn Bailey. Hicks followed with a 17-yard gain, and Anthony Hill Jr. capped the drive with a 7-yard run.
“Momentum was going against us. We got a stop and went down and scored to make it a two-possession game,” Henigan said.
The score gave Ryan what appeared to be a comfortable 28-13 lead with 7:39 to go. Bilbo was out of the game with a leg injury, and Magnolia West turned the ball over on downs at the Ryan 35 with 5:31 to play.
Instead of wilting, Magnolia West marched down the field again and scored with 1:43 left on the clock.
The Mustangs went for the onside kick, but Ryan recovered to set up its final drive and Hicks’ big run to run out the clock.
“I felt good today and am steadily getting better, but we have a lot of work to do,” Hicks said. “We started off strong and let up in the second half. We’re going to get back to work and prepare for Longview.”
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 469-360-3611 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.