The Richland Springs Coyotes kept their undefeated season and quest for a ninth state championship alive with last week's 34-29 come-from-behind victory over Calvert. Now the Coyotes seek a measure of revenge in a Class A Division II Region IV championship game rematch against the Oakwood Panthers, who ended Richland Springs' postseason run a year ago.
Kickoff between Richland Springs (10-0) and Oakwood (8-4) is slated for 7 p.m. Friday in Hico.
In last week's back-and-forth battle with Calvert, the Coyotes scored with 41 seconds left on a 9-yard touchdown run by Landon Burkhart to secure the victory.
Another key moment for the Coyotes came with Calvert leading 22-20 and driving at the 2:49 mark of the third period. Lane Shannon intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, staking Richland Springs to a 26-22 lead — the final points scored before Calvert surged in front again with 3:41 left in the contest.
Richland Springs finished with 320 yards of total offense — 171 rushing and 149 passing — while surrendering 245 yards — 123 through the air and 122 on the ground — but forcing the game’s two turnovers.
Burkhart completed 5 of 6 passes for 100 yards with two scoring tosses for Richland Springs, while rushing for 81 yards and a score and catching a 33-yard pass. Matthew Ridgon compiled 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground, completed 4 of 10 passes for 49 yards, and hauled in an 8-yard scoring reception. Wade Appleton led the Coyotes with three catches for 76 yards.
Defensively for Richland Springs, Burkhart tallied 11 tackles with 2.5 for loss, Shannon contributed 8.5 tackles and the pick six and Jaydeyn Bryant recorded 5.5 tackles.
Oakwood — a winner of five straight games — defeated McDade (61-8) and Blanket (60-20) in its two postseason victories. The Panthers' losses this year have been at the hands of Milford (76-54), Union Hill (52-6), Coolidge (63-40) and Calvert (47-14).
The Panthers lost a significant number of players to graduation from last year's 10-4 squad that upended Richland Springs, 66-56, in the third round. Key'Undre Davis is back, however, as he accounted for 167 of Oakwood's 178 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and also caught three passes for 55 yards and two more scores against the Coyotes in 2018.
In last week's win over Blanket, Oakwood's Jerimiah Sargent intercepted a Tiger pass on the first play of the game to set the tone. Zack Nickerson later recovered a fumble and picked off a pass as the Panthers created three takeaways and allowed 232 yards — 165 rushing and 67 passing.
Offensively, Davis rushed for touchdowns of 32, 10, 25 and 4 yards, while tossing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Nickerson. The Panthers compiled 336 yards, with 281 coming on the ground, and were turnover free.
Richland Springs enters the contest producing 62 points and 415 yards — 285 rushing and 130 passing — per game with seven turnovers on the year, while giving up 27 points and 219 yards — 126 rushing and 93 passing — per outing, with 29 takeaways.
Leading rushers include Matthew Rigdon (1,012 yards, 18 TDs), Griff Rigdon (531 yards, 15 TDs), Landon Burkhart (421 yards, 6 TDs), Lane Shannon (313 yards, 6 TDs), and Zane Capps (186 yards, 5 TDs).
Through the air, Matthew Rigdon has thrown for 874 yards with 12 touchdowns, Burkhart has passed for 239 yards and six scores and Capps has a touchdown pass and 62 yards.
Top receiving threats include Shannon (14-281, 4 TDs), Deklyn Chandler (9-200, 3 TDs), Wade Appleton (8-261, 5 TDs), Massiah Clarady (6-119, 2 TDs), Jaydeyn Bryant (4-74, TD), Burkhart (3-90, TD), and Josiah Beam (3-42, TD).
Leading tacklers include Shannon (60.5 tackles, 12 for loss, 6 sacks, 3 FRs, 1 INT), Appleton (38.5 tackles, 8 for loss, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 FRs), Matthew Rigdon (30.5 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 2 INTs, 6 FRs), Burkhart (29.5 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 3 FRs), Chandler (18.5 tackles), Beam (17 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 2 FRs), Griff Rigdon (14 tackles, 2.5 for loss), Clarady (12.5 tackles, 1 INT), T.J. Grant (11 tackles, 2 for loss), and Capps (10.5 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 1 INT).
Friday's winner will face either Strawn (8-4) or Gordon (11-1) — who squared off for the second time this season Thanksgiving night in Hico — in the Class A Division II state semifinals next weekend.