Mansfield Lake Ridge had been bulldozing through the competition this season toward its first state final.
Injuries and a superior team finally caught up to coach Kirk Thor’s Eagles Friday night at NRG Stadium.
With quarterback Jett Duffey and running back Duke Carter slowed by injuries, Lake Ridge’s perfect season came to an end with a 56-0 loss to Richmond George Ranch in the Class 5A Division I state championship game.
“It’s going to sting for a while because when you love those kids so much, and it’s like a big family, it’s going to sting a lot,” Thor said.
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I believe in my team, and if everyone was healthy and everyone’s here, we would have come out with a win.
Mansfield Lake Ridge quarterback Jett Duffey
George Ranch (16-0), No. 3 in the final Associated Press Class 5A regular-season state poll, opened a 21-0 halftime lead with touchdowns from Josh Scruggs, Alex Fontenot and Quintin Morris.
The Eagles (15-1), No. 7 in the final AP poll, struggled all night. They punted three times in the first half, four by the third quarter, which matched their total from the previous five playoff games combined.
After Lake Ridge punted on the opening possession, George Ranch went 55 yards on six plays as Scruggs took a sweep 32 yards for the touchdown with 7:25 to go in the first quarter.
“It felt pretty good before the game, but on my first scramble I just knew it wasn’t right,” said Duffey, who sustained a hamstring injury last week against Aledo.
Lake Ridge turned the ball over on downs and punted on its next two possessions. The Longhorns took advantage by going 51 yards on nine plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run from Fontenot to end the first quarter.
George Ranch, which had two sacks and two interceptions in the first half, scored on a 22-yard pass as Antonio Jackson hit Morris, 5:52 left in the second quarter.
Duffey sat out in the second half with sophomore Jason Bean taking over at quarterback. Joseph Rowe had the majority of carries as Carter (high ankle sprain) rushed only two times.
I’m proud of our kids. You can’t use it as an excuse in football. Guys are going to get injured. We had them for 15 great games and we played well.
Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor
“It really is tough having to go out there without your backfield, but it’s something we had to overcome and adversity is tough to overcome, you have to just fight through it,” senior center Anthony Narro said.
The Longhorns got everything they could in the second half against a depleted Eagles’ first team. George Ranch added 21 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth.
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“I’m proud of our kids,” Thor said. “You can’t use it as an excuse in football. Guys are going to get injured. We had them for 15 great games and we played well. George Ranch is a really great football team. They wore us down on defense a little and offensively we were never in sync.”
It was the first time Lake Ridge had been shut out since a 35-0 loss to Waxahachie in 2012, and it marked a season high for points allowed. The Eagles came in averaging 53.7 points a game and 61.4 points during the postseason.
The last shutout in a higher classification in a state title game came in 2005 Class 4A Division I (Dallas Highland Park 59, Marshall 0), and 1998 Class 5A Division II (Midland Lee 54, San Antonio MacArthur 0).
George Ranch outgained Lake Ridge 536-200.
“I think in the end, we’re still a family and we’re still going to love each other no matter what, no matter the outcome,” Narro said.
Both teams were appearing in their first state title game and both were playing in their fourth year of UIL competition.
“I believe in my team, and if everyone was healthy and everyone’s here, we would have come out with a win,” Duffey said. “It’s just a what-if thing. They played their butts off, and they came out with a win.”
The last shutout in a higher classification UIL state title game came in 2005 when Dallas Highland Park defeated Marshall 59-0 in Class 4A Division I. Midland Lee beat San Antonio MacArthur 54-0 in Class 5A Division II in 1998.
State title games
Class 4A Div. I: Waco La Vega 33, Argyle 31
Class 4A Div. II: West Orange-Stark 22, Celina 3
Today, all games on FSSW
Class 5A Div. II: Cedar Park (15-0) vs. Frisco Lone Star (14-1), noon
Class 6A Div. I: Galena Park N. Shore (12-3) vs. Austin Westlake (14-1), 4 p.m.
Class 6A Div.II: Katy (15-0) vs. Austin Lake Travis (15-0), 8 p.m.