Both teams entered Friday night undefeated, and the game of the week definitely lived up to the hype.
Richland stopped Grapevine on a fourth-and-long play, and then running back Rylee Johnson picked up the first down on a fourth-and-inches to seal the win as the Rebels hung on for a 38-35 victory in a District 8-5A showdown at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.
Richland improved to 7-0 for the first time since 2008 and 4-0 in district. Grapevine dropped to 6-1 and 3-1.
The Rebels led 35-14 to start the third quarter after Grapevine fumbled and the Rebels’ Clay Howard walked in a score from the 3.
But the Mustangs responded quickly with back-to-back touchdown passes from Alan Bowman to Cale Dow and David Clayton to get within 35-27 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
After holding Richland to a 21-yard field goal, Grapevine responded with another touchdown. Bowman’s fifth touchdown pass of the night was a 4-yarder to Dow to get the Mustangs within 38-35 with 8:23 left in the game.
Grapevine’s Zach Evans intercepted a Richland pass, but the Mustangs turned it over on downs.
The Mustangs had one final chance, but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-18 with 2:02 left.
Richland quarterback Trae Self threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns — two of which went to Landon Le, who had 11 catches for 167 yards.
Self’s first touchdown throw went 25 yards to Le to give Richland a 14-7 lead with 4:13 left in the first quarter. His second to Le went from 42 yards to extend the lead to 28-14 with 1:55 until halftime.
Bowman threw for 270 yards. Clayton had nine catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Grapevine’s Will Dejacimo recovered an early fumble and the Mustangs took a 7-0 lead four plays later on Bowman’s 7-yard pass to Zack Carnes with 10:12 left in the first.
The Rebels regrouped with a 13-yard touchdown run by Rylee Johnson on the ensuing drive to tie it at 7-7 one minute later.
The Mustangs had an 85-yard drive, capped by Bowman’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Clayton on third-and-6, cutting their deficit to 21-14 with 4:40 left in the first half.
This came after Richland’s Antonio Burkhalter stripped Bowman of the ball, and the Rebels took a 21-7 lead on Self’s 12-yard pass to Rashee Rice.