Henry Clay's "stonewall defense" limited Ryle to 106 yards, and the host Blue Devils used a balanced offense to defeat the Raiders 24-7 in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs Friday night.
Henry Clay (6-4) advanced to the second round at Boone County next Friday. The Devils defeated the Rebels 14-7 two weeks ago.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Tyler Hooker finished with 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries for the winners. Quarterback Cole Mielcarek passed for 145 yards and a touchdown.
A halfback pass from Shannan Coofer to Jason Rider for a 29-yard touchdown put Henry Clay ahead 18-7 late in the third quarter, and the turnover-prone Raiders didn't recover.
Ryle (5-6) lost four fumbles and threw an interception. Henry Clay lost two fumbles.
"We were very prepared," Devils defensive end Grant Klinksiek said. "We call it our stonewall defense, and we went with it. Nobody gets past it."
"The defense showed up," Henry Clay Coach Sam Simpson said. "Credit all our defensive coaches. They school the kids to read their keys, and it's worked."
Ryle scored its only touchdown 16 seconds before halftime. But the Raiders were limited to 29 yards on 32 plays in the second half. They didn't cross midfield until midway through the fourth quarter, and the 13-play drive ended with an interception.
"We're a team in progress," Simpson said about the Devils, who lost their first four games but have won six in a row. "It wasn't pretty, but we got the first one out of the way."
The key touchdown was Coofer's halfback option pass to Rider, the receiver carrying a defender the final yards to the end zone.
"We had not passed out of that formation this season," Rider said. "We had always run. It was sure a good time. We needed a touchdown."
Henry Clay led 18-7 with 35 seconds left in the third period.
Both teams had several scoring chances that failed in the first half. The Devils led 12-7 on Hooker's touchdown runs of 6 and 10 yards.
"We struggled on offense, but we got a few breaks," Hooker said.
Henry Clay scored on its second possession.
The home team had to punt, but Ryle's Logan Carney fumbled the kick after signaling for a fair catch, and the Devils' Samuel Simpson recovered.
Starting from the Ryle 15, Mielcarek ran 9 yards, and Hooker scored from the 6.
Henry Clay went ahead 12-0 with 3:39 left in the half, starting with a partially blocked punt at the Ryle 29.
The Devils reached the Raiders 11, but a holding penalty pushed them back to the 48 to face first-down-and-29.
Gains of 13 yards by Coofer and 19 by Hooker gave Henry Clay a first down at the 17. Both runners fumbled, but teammates recovered. Hooker ran it in from the 10.
The Raiders drove 60 yards with Travis Elliott carrying on eight of nine plays and scoring from the 1 with 16.8 seconds left in the half.
Ryle 0 7 0 0— 7
Henry Clay 6 6 6 6—24
HC—Tyler Hooker 6 run (kick failed); HC—Hooker 10 run (pass failed); R—Travis Elliott 1 run (Erik Pederson kick); HC—Jason Rider 29 pass from Shannon Coofer (kick blocked); HC—Branden Johnson 9 pass from Cole Mielcarek (kick failed);
Records—Ryle 5-6; Henry Clay 6-4
First downs 18 8
Rushing yards 146 57
Passing yards 189 49
Passes 16-28-0 8-25-1
Punts 5-32 7-32
Penalties 6-55 1-10
Fumbles 5-2 5-4