Prairie View 28, River Oaks 20
MONROE — Prairie View will gladly take the split.
Two weeks after bowing to River Oaks in the game that determined the MAIS District 5-2A championship, the Spartans got their revenge with a 28-20 victory in the first round of the playoffs on Friday night.
Prairie View outscored the Mustangs 28-14 in the second half, but needed to score on its final full possession to break a 20-all deadlock.
Starting from its own 37 after River Oaks' game-tying touchdown, the Spartans crossed midfield to the 47 on a 15-yard markoff against the Mustangs.
Rainbolt's 20-yard gain, two plays later, moved the sticks to the 25.
With the Spartans confronting third-and-eight, quarterback Hayes Crockett picked up the first down at the 15.
Three carries by Rainbolt netted 14 yards to bring up first-and-goal from the 1.
After being stopped for no gain on first down, a diving Crockett squeezed between center Caleb Christmas and right guard Gage Riles for the go-ahead touchdown. Rainbolt's 2-point conversion run padded the Spartans' lead to 28-20 with time winding down.
River Oaks began its first series from its own 36 after covering Austin Carroll's squib kick.
Linebacker Blake Ray blew up a first down rushing play for a loss of five, and the Spartans took over on downs three incomplete passes later.
Rainbolt's 23-yard tote to the 2-yardline converted a third-and-nine and sealed the result.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Mustangs threatened on their first series before Tanner Caldwell intercepted a third-and-11 pass at the two.
Unable to generate a first down, the Spartans punted from their own end zone.
Starting with a short field at the 27, the Mustangs moved to the 1 on a 26-yard run by Cody Tindall, and Drake Tannehill sneaked it in from there.
Prairie View made a defensive stand late in the second quarter to stay within 6-0 at intermission.
With the Mustangs facing fourth-and-one from the Prairie View 29, Tindall was stopped by a mass of bodies for no gain.
River Oaks started the second half on offense after John Ethan Hughes recovered an onside kick at the Prairie View 48.
Tannehill kept for 13 yards and Avery rambled for 12 as the Mustangs proceeded to the 23.
On fourth-and-two from the 15, the Mustangs picked up the first down yardage, but the ball came loose as Kentrell Spencer made the tackle and teammate Kolton Farrar made the recovery at the 6.
If there was any doubt that the momentum had turned, it didn't last.
Hitting the right sideline in full stride on a jet sweep, Spencer ran 80 yards to the 14. Austin Harper's pancake block gave Rainbolt a clear path up the middle on the following snap. After a false start backed the Spartans up to the 8, Crockett ran the 2-point conversion to give the visitors their first lead, 8-6.
After the two teams traded punts, River Oaks' offense set up at its own 37.
Two snaps later, Tindall took a pitch to the right side, followed a block from Hughes and sprinted 60 yards to the end zone to put the Mustangs back in front, 12-8.
Caldwell returned the Mustangs' sky kick 11 yards to give the Spartans good field position at the plus-49.
On third-and-nine, Crockett hit Spencer on a vertical route along the left sideline for a 48-yard touchdown. Prairie View came up empty on the 2-point play, but had retaken the lead, 14-12, with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
River Oaks went three and out on its next series before bringing on the punting unit.
Fielding the punt at the 37, Rainbolt took a step to his right, cut to his left, picked up an initial block from Kolton Farrar and motored down the sideline untouched. Rainbolt's 67-yard touchdown return stretched the Spartans' lead to 20-12 early in the fourth quarter.
Without facing a third down, the Mustangs (5-6) countered with an eight-play, 64-yard drive. Tannehill's 19-yard run set up first-and-goal before Avery took it in from eight yards away. Tindall's 2-point run tied the game at 20.
Prairie View (7-3), the No. 12 seed, will be home for the quarterfinals Friday night against Amite School Center (Miss.). ASC (5-6), the No. 13 seed, defeated No. 4 Newton County 24-18.
Notes: Rainbolt accounted for 216 all-purpose yards (139 rushing, 10 receiving, 67 punt return). ... Spencer was responsible for 131 all-purpose yards (83 rushing, 48 receiving) on just three touches, but his forced fumble, which prevented River Oaks from taking a 12-0 lead, may have been his biggest play. ... Ray and Carroll shared high-tackle honors for the Spartans with a dozen apiece, followed by Jacob Farrar with 11, Spencer with nine and Kolton Farrar with eight. ... Tindall (13 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD) and Avery (21-112-1) both eclipsed the 100-yard mark.