COMANCHE — Richland Springs turned four May turnovers into 32 points and the second-ranked Coyotes scored on all 11 of their offensive possessions in a 93-43 Six-Man Division I Region IV semifinal playoff victory over the Tigers here Friday.
The victory marked the third straight year the Coyotes (10-1) ended May’s season (9-2). Defending state champion Richland Springs — which is chasing its third state title in four seasons — will move on to face No. 3 Calvert — which eliminated Blanket, 58-0, Friday — next week to determine the Region IV champion.
Richland Springs had given up just eight points in its previous two playoff wins against May, but the Tigers put six touchdowns on the board Friday night. May’s defense, however, had no answer for the Coyotes’ offensive juggernaut, which scored its season-high of 93 points in just over 2 1/2 quarters.
“Our kids played hard, we just couldn’t get stops when we needed them — or at all,” said May head coach Craig Steele.
“This is a good win for us, but my hat’s off to the kids at May,” said Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart. “We had kids in the right place, we just couldn’t make the plays. But we were able to produce some points off their turnovers and when you do that good things happen to you.”
Tyler Ethridge threw for 220 yards and five touchdowns and added 71 yards and two more scores for the Coyotes. Mark Williams caught four passes for 55 yards and a pair of scores, while Abraham Ahumada finished with 58 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“Our offense played a great game,” Burkhart said. “Coach (Harley) Ethridge and Coach (Shawn) Rogers did a great job getting the game plan together and the kids executed well.”
May was led by Nathan Howard, who passed for 173 yards and three scores and added 103 yards on the ground and two more touchdowns. Mikey Dickerson was the Tigers’ top receiver with six catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
“We felt like we could throw the football on them,” Steele said. “Nathan had some good runs tonight, which did surprise me a little.”
Added Burkhart, “Mikey Dickerson surprised me and made some great catches. We knew Nathan Howard was a great quarterback and he’s a strong runner.”
Richland Springs jumped out to a 16-0 lead as Ethridge scored on a 10-yard run, then scooped up a fumble — caused when Howard was sacked — and returned it 8 yards for a score just 5:17 into the contest.
May answered with a 23-yard touchdown run by Howard, but Ethridge connected with Andrew Fowler on a 17-yard scoring toss to make the score 24-6 with 1:47 left in the opening period.
The Tigers again closed the gap as Dickerson caught his first touchdown, a 30-yard toss from Matt Pruitt. The pass was the only one attempted by Pruitt, but it cut Richland Springs’ lead to 24-12 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Coyotes scored the next two touchdowns to push their lead to 39-12 with 7:50 left in the first half. Ethridge scored on an 8-yard run, then hit Williams for a 17-yard touchdown.
May responded with a 21-yard scoring strike from Howard to Pruitt which trimmed to the deficit to 39-20, but two plays later the Coyotes were back in the end zone on a 22-yard Ethridge pass to Khalid Khatib.
Shelby Smith’s lone carry resulted in a 1-yard touchdown and gave Richland Springs a 55-20 advantage at the 4:22 juncture of the second period. The scoring drive was set up by a Fowler interception of Howard, then Ahumda ran for 27 yards on the initial play.
Howard reeled off a 54-yard touchdown run to bring the Tigers within 55-28 with 3:41 left in the half.
Again, Richland Springs had an answer as Ethridge scored on a 17-yard scamper, but Howard connected with Tyler Hammond on a 17-yard scoring toss just before halftime, which cut the Coyotes’ lead to 63-36 at intermission.
Each team scored on its first play of the second half as Ahumada ran for a 45-yard touchdown and Dickerson caught a 37-yard scoring toss from Howard.
Ethridge connected with Williams again on a 8-yard scoring toss that made the score 79-43 with 7:54 left, then the Coyotes forced two more turnovers that would ice the game.
A fumble at the Tiger 20 set up Ethridge’s 12-yard scoring toss to Mitchell Jacobson, then a second interception by Fowler set the table for a 5-yard Ahumada touchdown with 5:27 left in the third period.
“We had a good year. We didn’t go undefeated during the regular season this year, but that’s okay,” Steele said. “We’re losing five seniors that we’re going to miss, but we have several kids coming back. We’ll start the offseason on Monday and it will be time to reload.”
The Coyotes, meanwhile, will turn their focus to Calvert.
“They are the same type of Calvert team we’ve seen the last couple of years,” Burkhart said. “They’re very fast, they have a lot of team speed and they’re very physical. We have to regroup and get back to work next week.”