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Lanier rallies for 35-17 win over River Ridge

WOODSTOCK -- Getting thrown out of a game is a tactic used by some baseball managers to get the team fired up, but it is not often seen in football games.

Billy Wells may not have meant to motivate his players by getting ejected from Lanier's 35-17 win over River Ridge on Friday night, but it seemed to work.

With his team about to attempt a two-point conversion down 17-15 halfway through the third quarter, Wells called a timeout to talk with the referee after a delay of game call cost the Longhorns (6-2 overall, 3-1 in varsity games) 5 yards.

The referee flagged Wells for unsportsmanlike conduct and after the 15-yard mark off, Wells apparently said something else, was flagged again and ejected. Assistant head coach Korey Mobbs took over as head coach for the Longhorns.

"We faced a little adversity when Coach Wells had that unfortunate incident," Mobbs said. "It was a questionable incident, but our kids moved on and responded to the adversity."

River Ridge head coach Robert Braucht said he would never want to be kicked out of a game, but he would want his team to respond like Lanier did if he ever did get kicked out.

"You hope and pray that your kids love you enough and are spirited enough that they are going to get fired up in that situation," Braucht said. "I was happy with the delay of game and I was happy for the first one, but I went, 'Oh crap!' on the second one because at that point it became a situation where they had something to fight for."

The Longhorns proceeded to score 20 unanswered points and stun River Ridge.

"The dang flood gates opened up in the second half," Braucht said. "I really felt going into this game that (Lanier) is a good team and they have a lot of depth. We were not able to wear them down like we have done (to opponents) in the past several weeks."

Lanier opened up the passing game and quarterback Taylor Grant threw for six first downs in the second half after gaining a mere two first downs through the air in the first half.

"We liked our success with the play-action game," Mobbs said. "Our quarterback has done a great job with that all year and our receivers did a great job (Friday) night of going down the field and getting the football."

Running back Bernard Nuckles put the Knights (6-2) away with two late touchdown runs of 6 and 3 yards.

River Ridge held a 10-9 advantage at halftime and looked well on its way to widening that lead early in the second half.

E.J. Ellis recovered a fumble less than a minute into the third quarter and rumbled 48 yards for a touchdown on the next play to give River Ridge a 17-9 lead with 11:03 left in the period.

"We were in a dogfight at 10-9 and there in the second half we had a great stand there," Braucht said. "But we have to learn how to do the little things right and learn how to finish."

The Longhorns answered and the Knights did not get close to scoring again.

Mobbs said the Longhorns seemed to get everything clicking after responding to the Knights' touchdown in the third quarter.

"Our defense had a hard time adjusting to the wing-T," Mobbs said. "We told them all week River Ridge does a great job with what they do on offense. It takes a while to adjust to that on defense, but once we did, we did a great job. And the offense picked them up moving the ball down the field several times."