Colleyville Heritage has been a second-half team for the majority of the season, and on Saturday, the Panthers proved it again.
But this time, Heritage was a few plays away from advancing to the state semifinals.
Denton Ryan got up three scores before hanging on to win 24-10 in the Class 5A Division I state quarterfinals at AT&T Stadium.
Ryan (14-0) will play Dallas Highland Park (12-2) in the state semifinals, 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ford Center at The Star.
“It was a great ball game – went right down to the wire,” Heritage head coach Joe Willis said. “I was really proud of our kids and they fought the whole way.”
Trailing 17-0, the Panthers had a 12-play drive that ended in a 27-yard field goal from kicker T.J. Watson with 11 minutes left. Gervon Thothion recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Ryan’s Randy Gray picked off a Heritage pass attempt with 9:12 remaining.
After a Ryan punt, Heritage made it a one-score game, 17-10 on Cam Roane’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Michael Young with 5:29 to play.
The Raiders iced the game with a 4:30 drive as Tyreke Davis scored a 10-yard touchdown run.
“Our defense played great the entire way,” Willis said. “They were on the field a lot and offensively we didn’t convert in some situations, but I was really proud of our defense and our defensive staff.”
Ryan went up 7-0 with 1:20 left in the first quarter on Spencer Sanders’ 24-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Douglas.
The Raiders increased their lead to 10-0 on a 28-yard field goal by Dillon McKnight with 5:39 in the second.
“We said it the whole time – we’re a second-half team,” Willis said. “We wanted to make it a close ball game at halftime and I thought we had our opportunities to do that.”
Leading 10-0 to start the third quarter, Ryan put together a 90-yard scoring drive that took 20 plays and 9 minutes, 20 seconds off the clock – ending in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Sanders to Douglas with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Sanders finished with 192 yards on 19 of 28 passing and two touchdowns, and 25 carries for 100 yards. Davis added 22 carries for 153 yards and one touchdown. Douglas had 13 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Roane threw for 173 yards and one touchdown in his final high school game for Heritage (10-4), which was on its deepest playoff run since 2006.
“I’m incredibly proud. To go through the season with the setbacks and injuries that we had, our kids believed in the system and process all the way,” Willis said. “Came out today and played a really good football team.”