LUBBOCK, Texas- The Richland Rebels made history on Saturday, using a fast offensive start and strong special teams en route to a 55-21 win over El Paso Parkland from Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday. It’s the first time in school history that the Rebels have advanced to the regional finals.
“The last two senior classes have been special groups,” said Richland head coach Ged Kates, “These kids believe in each other and they’re so talented and it’s awesome to see all of this come together.”
The Rebels wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. On their opening possession, which was capped off by a 25-yard run by Rylee Johnson to open the scoring.
But, as was the case on this afternoon, special teams made all the difference.
Richland junior receiver Rashee Rice made his presence felt with a 61-yard punt return that set up a 24 yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Drew Trent to make it 14-0 Rebels just three minutes into the game.
The senior quarterback Trent would continue his strong play later in the first quarter, throwing a 63-yard touchdown pass to Rashee Rice and a 37-yarder to Kenneth Reeves to put the Rebels up 28-0 in the early stages of the second quarter.
“We practiced hard all week long,” Trent said, “Whether it was running or throwing, we had a good game plan coming into this game and we just came out and executed.”
El Paso Parkland wasn’t about to go away quietly, as the Matadors would fight their way back with big swings in special teams.
After a big 27 -yard punt return by Dontavious Campbell, quarterback A.J. Briggs found De’Quan Henderson for a 22-yard touchdown to get Parkland on the board. Campbell would force another fumble that set up a Deion Hankins touchdown run. Two scores within 20 seconds and suddenly Parkland was down 28-14. Briggs finished with 205 yards passing while Henderson finished with 93 yards receiving and two scores.
The Rebels regained control thanks to a 79-yard kickoff return by Shamar Johnson that set up another Trent touchdown pass near the end of the first half to make it 35-14.
“That was one of the better performances from our special teams,” Kates said, “We talk about how the most important play is the next play. We didn’t let the early mistakes set us back.”
The second half turned into a defensive struggle but the Rebels came alive in the second half, forcing three A.J. Briggs interceptions including one returned by Texas A&M commit DaShaun White for a 41-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter.
Drew Trent would add a 69-yard touchdown run and each team would score one more time to cap off the scoring. The signal caller finished with 323 yards and five total touchdowns.
El Paso Parkland finishes their season at 10-3 and also knocks out the last El Paso team that was left in the playoffs.
“I’m proud of these kids. They really fought hard to the end,” said El Paso Parkland head coach Eric Frontz, “It was a great season and I really enjoyed the ride with these kids.”
Richland moves to 11-2 and will face Aledo next Saturday night at 6 p.m. at The Star in Frisco.
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