THOMAS – The host Terriers looked like they might pull another second-half shocker Friday in a Class A quarterfinal game. But No. 2-ranked Rejoice Christian would have no part of it.
A week after it rallied from a 24-point deficit in the second half to beat Minco a week ago, Thomas scored three touchdowns within a three-minute span and took a 28-27 lead early in the fourth quarter. Nate Anderson answered with two of his five touchdowns and Clint Hurst added a long scoring reception as Rejoice pulled away late for a 47-28 victory on a sloppy Ross Field in Thomas.
Anderson finished with 216 rushing yards on 26 carries. Quarterback Riley Walker threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran 70 yards as Rejoice improved to 13-0 for the second straight season.
The Eagles will take on No. 6 Ringling (11-1) next week in the semifinals at an undecided location. Ringling defeated Pawhuska, 28-12, on Friday.
Anderson scored on runs of 38 and 15 yards in the first half and caught a 19-yard strike from Walker late in the second quarter as Rejoice took a 21-7 halftime lead. Gage Barham’s 41-yard touchdown on a slant expanded the Eagles advantage to 27-7 with 1:59 left in the third.
But Thomas (9-4) countered with Dylan Castillo’s 12-yard TD run and Ethan Hamberlin’s 45-yard interception return just moments later and cut the Rejoice lead to 27-21 going into the fourth quarter. Castillo, who finished with 167 rushing yards on 22 carries, added a 4-yard score with 9:58 remaining that gave the Terriers a 28-27 lead.
One play after Walker’s crucial 21-yard run on third down extended the next series, Anderson dashed 34 yards for to the endzone as the Eagles regained the lead for good. After the Rejoice defense forced a three-and-out, Hurst caught a Walker pass near midfield and broke free the rest of the way for a 68-yard touchdown and a 40-28 lead.
Zach Hair’s fumble recovery ended the next Thomas series set up Anderson’s final score, a 16-yard run that iced the Rejoice win.
Barham led Rejoice receivers with five catches for 76 yards. Hurst tallied 74 yards on two grabs.
Hamberlin finished with 125 rushing yards for Thomas.