Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2021: No. 9 - Lubbock-Cooper vs. Wichita Falls Rider

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9. Lubbock-Cooper 20, Wichita Falls Rider 12 

October 15, 2021 

Week 8 District 3-5A Division II Play 

Wichita Falls, TX 

For the seventh time in four years, district rivals Lubbock-Cooper and Wichita Falls Rider locked horns in a battle that would decide the 3-5A D1 champion, and would be a playoff preview as these two would play a few weeks later for the Region I crown as well. As expected, the game turned out to be an absolute slugfest as both teams, ranked in the top 10 at the time, came into this showdown relying on tough defense and a grinding running game, it was a definite playoff atmosphere at Memorial Stadium as both teams brought big crowds on a chilly night in Texoma.  

Cooper opened the game with a lengthy drive leading to a 28-yard field goal from Teagan Vann to stake the Pirates to an early 3-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. Rider would answer with its own grind-it-out drive, capped off by an 11-yard run from Anquan Willis to make it 6-3 as the PAT was blocked.  

Both defenses absolutely dominated the rest of the second quarter and for the first half of the third quarter as punts and field position became the name of the game. With 5:28 left in the third, Cooper was able to break through and take a 10-6 lead as Braydon Lewis hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Holt Gibson to put the Pirates ahead. Rider would quickly answer on the next series as Willis would power in from 10 yards out to give the Raiders a short-lived 12-10 lead. On the ensuing squib kickoff, Cooper sophomore Callan Ritz charged the ball confidently, scooped it up and split the coverage team from Rider for a 68-yard touchdown and a 17-12 Cooper lead with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.  

From that point on the Pirates defense dominated holding Rider to just 28-yards of offense for the rest of the game with stars Kyler Jordan and Kobie McKenzie making several highlight reel type defensive plays. Lubbock Cooper would add a 26-yard Vann field goal with just under seven minutes left in the game for the final margin of 20-12 as Rider never seriously threatened a score for the remainder of the game.  

Cooper’s physicality in this one won out and would eventually win out in their meeting in the regional finals as the Pirates would shut out Wichita Falls Rider 22-0 in the 5A-Division II Region I final, the team’s eight meeting in the past four years, with Cooper winning six of the eight meetings.  

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