Ringling football uses strong 2nd half to beat Texhoma

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

RINGLING — The box score rarely highlights a punt, especially because scoring plays usually get all of the attention.

However, it’s safe to say River Miller’s punt was instrumental in the Ringling High School football team tallying a 23-7 win over Texhoma on Friday night in the third round of the Class A State Playoffs.

“What a great game (River) had everywhere,” said Blue Devils head coach Phil Koons. “He never comes off the field. He’s on every special team play. He has a lot of heart and that’s one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. To kick it like that and avoid that guy on the rush. And we got a great bounce out of it. We couldn’t have kicked it any better.”

It was a miracle in itself that Miller even completed the punt. A high snap sent the ball through his outreached hands and most athletes would consider it a lost play and dive on it.

Not Miller.

He quickly gathered the ball and sent it flying through the air.

“I just had to get the ball off and give us good field position on defense,” Miller said. “That’s all I know.”

And while no one could have known it then, the punt was a huge difference-maker. A turnover on downs would’ve given Texhoma prime field position to score and shift the momentum.

Instead, the Red Devils didn’t get the chance and Miller later scored to put Ringling in control. 

Blue Devils senior Kash Lyle ran the ball 22 times for 101 yards Friday night and also tallied a pair of two-point conversions.

“That was an excellent football team with a lot of heart and a lot of athletes,” Koons said of Texhoma. “But I tip my hat to our defense and our offense. Our game plan is to play great defense and try not to give up big plays, which we really didn’t. Then grind out first downs, move the chains and keep the ball away from them. Eventually we break their spirit and score. It worked.”

Kash Lyle was key to the Blue Devils breaking Texhoma’s spirit as the senior carried the ball 22 times for 101 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown, but did rush for a pair of two-point conversions.

“They’re all team guys,” Koons said. “They could care less how many yards or who gets the credit. It’s all about being a team player and doing your job.”

Ringling quarterback Karson Daniel knows that, as he played an important role in the victory. The sophomore may have only completed two passes — both to Miller — but he made his mark on the ground.

He scored on a seven-yard scamper in the second quarter, connected with Miller on a 14-yard strike and then punched it in from the one-yard line.

It wasn’t all him though.

“River Miller and Kash Lyle were grinding it out for first downs in the fourth quarter and the offensive line was blocking,” Koons said.

It was an overall team win and proved that the Blue Devils are a threat to repeat as Class A State Champions.

“It’s a good group of seniors — they’re tight,” Koons said. “They’re still hungry and they’re humble. They worked their tails off. I’m so proud of them.”

Ringling is back in action at home against Morrison at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats knocked off previously undefeated Wewoka 32-24 in the third round Friday night.

“We’re working so hard to get back to the state championship,” Miller said. “We’re taking it one week at a time. We’re just working hard for it.”