FORT WORTH — Rider brought a passing game to its playoff opener on Paul Galvan Field at Herman Clark Stadium Friday night.
That air raid by left-handed junior Chase London allowed the Raiders to take a 30-20 lead into halftime.
And when they came back out of the locker room, they brought a defense and focus and finished off Fort Worth Dunbar, 44-26, in the Class 4A Division II bi-district round.
The Raiders (9-2) didn't overpower the Wildcats on the ground — the running stats showed Rider with a 198-170 advantage at the end — but they did more than enough to move on to face Fort Worth Southwest on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
"One and oh, baby, and that's the goal in the playoffs to be 1-0 at the end of the week," Rider coach Jim Garfield said.
The Raiders were explosive offensively despite Dunbar's ability to get off the ball against the inside run game, going to the airways in the first half and the surprise attack helped them score on five of seven possessions and build that 10-point lead.
London, making his third start of the year and first since Oct. 19, hit 13-of-17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He finished 15-of-22 for 221 yards with two TDs in the air and another on a 7-yard run.
Domanic Thrasher led the running game with 87 yards on 13 carries.
Most of Rider's success defensively and in the running game came after halftime. The Raiders had 43 yards on the ground at halftime, not needing it with London sizzling hot, but they went back to form with 155 rushing yards in the second half.
And Garfield thought his defense was better, too.
"We were much better, a lot more focused," Garfield said. "We changed some coverages and the kids did a super job.
"Our pass rush picked up — that was the key right there — we had them covered in the first half and the quarterback and receiver threw some good balls."
The Raiders started the third quarter by excelling in all three phases of the game and they quickly took control.
A quick three-and-out after Sam Scribner and Brayden Burgess sacked Dan Harris on third down led to a 20-yard punt return by Brylan McCoy.
That gave Rider the ball on the Dunbar 41-yard line and it took just four running plays to extend the lead to 37-20 on a 7-yard run by London. Thrasher has two runs for 24 yards and Carlos Fleeks gained 10 on the first play.
Rider had one lengthy drive stall as a 66-yard touchdown was wiped out and another long pass sailed just over Josh Price's head. But in the final minute of the third the Raiders made it 44-20 on a 42-yard run from the quarterback position by Davon Allison. The blocking was superb and then Allison took his fan's breath away with a cut between defenders as he hit high gear and went untouched to the end zone.
London started his best passing day 7-of-7. He went 4-of-4 in a 63-yard, eight-play opening drive. Three of those were to Price, who caught seven in the game, and one to Allison. It set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Thrasher.
Dunbar answered that score to go up 7-6 on a 1-yard sneak by Harris (15 rushes, 83 yards) as the Wildcats took advantage of a failed onside kick.
But the Rider offense was relentless as a 26-yard return by Tanner Weir and a 15-yard penalty set up the Raiders on the Dunbar 41-yard line. It took London two plays from there with a 14-yard completion to Price and a 27-yard touchdown to Allison.
Rider made it 15-7 on a 34-yard field goal by Luis Trejo. Trejo later nailed a 35-yarder under heavy duress, but Rider took it off the board when the kicker was roughed.
That penalty led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Thrasher, his 17th score of the year.
Earlier in the second quarter London and McCoy had a two-play, 50-yard special. McCoy stretched with all he had to haul in a 40-yard bomb and then London made it easy on the 10-yard TD connection with a pretty fade to the right corner of the end zone.
Dunbar receiver Stepfawn Hughes had four catches for 89 yards and also gained 35 yards on four rushes.
Rider safety D.J. Arnold came up with his team-leading sixth interception of the year. Amani Colbert had a key pass breakup in the end zone to save a score.
Note: The pre-sale ickets for the area round game with Southwest will be $4 for students and $6 for adults at Rider High School. All tickets at the gate will be $8.
Rider 15 15 14 0—44
Dunbar 7 13 0 6—26
R — Domanic Thrasher 10 run (run failed), 9:11
D — Dan Harris 1 run (Eric Negrete kick), 6:14
R — Davon Allison 27 pass from Chase London (run failed), 5:47
R — Luis Trejo 34 FG, 4:07
R — Brylan McCoy 10 pass from Chase London (Domanic Thrasher run)
D — Taylor Martin 5 run (Eric Negrete kick), 7:39
R — Domanic Thrasher 2 run (Luis Trejo kick), 3:13
D — Dan Harris 44 run (kick failed), 1:42
R — Chase London 7 run (Luis Trejo kick), 8:28
R — Davon Allison 42 run (Luis Trejo kick), 0:38
D — Ty Watson 11 pass from Dan Harris (run failed), 6:45
First downs 22 11
Rushes-yards 31-198 37-170
Passing 221 114
Comp-Att-Int 15-22-0 6-16-1
Punts-Avg. 1-31 2-30.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yds. 6-43 10-64
RUSHING — Rider, Domanic Thrasher 13-87, Davon Allison 4-56, Chase London 4-4, Carlos Fleeks 7-40, Brylan McCoy 1-4, Chedy Joseph 2-7. Dunbar, Taylor Martin 15-62, Dan Harris 15-83, Stepfawn Hughes 5-35, Montrel Hawkins 1-3, TEAM 1 — 13.
PASSING — Rider, Chase London 22-15-202-0. Dunbar, Dan Harris 6-15-114-1, La'Quarrian Peoples 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Rider, Josh Price 7-62, John Hatch 2-51, Davon Allison 3-54, Brylan McCoy 3-54. Dunbar, Stepfawn Hughes 4-89, Ty Watson 2-25.