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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ryle tops Dixie Heights, will host first-round playoff game

Written by
Marc Hardin
Enquirer contributor

Quarterbacks were wild Friday night during Ryle’s 38-28 road victory over Dixie Heights at Rice Mountjoy Stadium. But it was a Raiders ace in the hole who upstaged the starters in a game replete with big plays that keyed the win for Ryle, which earned a first-round home game in the Class 6A playoffs.
"We got ourselves a home playoff game, and I couldn’t be happier for our players," Ryle coach Bryson Warner said. "We had some adversity, but nothing mattered. We kept competing."
Ryle (6-3), ranked fifth in the Enquirer Northern Kentucky coaches’ poll, improved to 3-1 in the district. Dixie (3-6), ranked ninth, finished 2-2.

"It’s huge getting a home playoff game in the first round," Ryle receiver Ryan Smith said. "That’s what we wanted."
Dixie’s Zeke Pike tried to dash the Raiders’ hopes. The Auburn-bound senior quarterback amassed over 300 yards total offense at halftime as the teams played to a 21-all tie. He finished with an unofficial total of 367 yards, with nearly 170 of that coming on the ground. He had a pair of touchdown passes to receiver Goose Cohorn and two rushing.
"He’s like a big old oak tree and it’s tough to take him down," Warner said of Pike. "But our guys kept plugging."

Pike threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Cohorn to help put the Colonels up, 7-0. Cohorn finished with nine catches for 167 yards. Ryle answered with quarterback Nathan Davis’ 78-yard scoring pass to Smith. Pike scored on the next series with a 6-yard run to cap an 89-yard drive, and J.D. Schmidt’s extra-point kick made it 14-7.

Davis ran 29 yards for a first down on the ensuing possession giving him 147 total yards early in the second quarter, but the quarterback sprained his left ankle on the play and was in on one more snap the rest of the way as junior varsity quarterback Ryan Hill took over the controls for Ryle.

Hill threw incomplete on his first play. He ran 36 yards for a touchdown on his second snap to help tie the score at 14-all. On the next series, Pike ran eight yards on fourth-and-9 giving him 101 rushing yards on his first 18 carries, and Dixie turned the ball over on downs. On the very next play, Hill took off on a 76-yard scoring run. Toby Mrozek’s kick gave Ryle a 21-14 lead.

"He jukes us out all the time in practice," Smith said of the 5-foot-5, 150-pound sophomore QB. "And now he’s doing it at the varsity level."

Hill finished with 254 yards rushing on 27 carries and scored three TDs. He also had an 8-yard scoring pass to Smith. "I like to run a lot," Hill said. "So I was just looking for holes, and our offensive line did a great job."

Pike’s 38-yard TD pass to Cohorn and Schmidt’s kick tied it 21-all at the break. Ryle’s Jake Nutter blocked a Pike punt and Nick Salmen recovered at the Dixie 42. Eight plays later, Hill found Smith with his TD pass and Ryle went ahead 28-21 with 5:57 to play in the third. Davis reentered the game for the Raiders and threw an interception on first down. Pike ran eight times on the ensuing drive and scored on a 1-yard keeper and Dixie tied it at 28.

Hill scampered for 60 yards on the next drive and Ryle took the lead for good, 31-28, on Mrozek’s 24-yard field goal. Tony Burtraw sacked Pike on fourth down, giving the Raiders the ball at the Dixie 10. Hill scored on a 1-yard keeper four plays later and Mrozek’s kick set the final score with 24.4 seconds to play.

In the postgame huddle, a Ryle assistant coach asked players to raise their hand if they wanted Hill to play in today’s JV game rather than get ready to suit up with the varsity in Friday’s regular-season finale against Highlands. No one raised their hand.

"Ryan won it it for us," Smith said.

Ryle 7 14 7 10 -- 38
Dixie Heights 7 14 0 7 -- 28

D-Cohorn 33 pass from Pike (Schmidt kick)
R-Smith 78 pass from Davis (Mrozek kick)
D-Pike 6 run (Schmidt kick)
R-Hill 36 run (Mrozek kick)
R-Hill 76 run (Mrozek kick)
D-Cohorn 38 pass from Pike (Schmidt kick)
R-Smith 7 pass from Hill (Mrozek kick)
D-Pike 1 run (Schmidt kick)
R-Mrozek 24 FG
R-Hill 1 run (Mrozek kick)

Records: Ryle 6-3, 3-1 Class 6A, District 6; Dixie Heights 3-6, 2-2


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