Editor's note: This is the second in a four part series looking back at the football rivalry between Stephenville and Wichita Falls Rider. The Yellow Jackets and Raiders meet again 7:30 p.m. Friday at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin.
By BRAD KEITH Sports Editor
Stephenville avenged its 2004 season-ending 63-42 playoff loss to Wichita Falls Rider by defeating the Raiders 24-15 in week three of the 2006 season.
But the Raiders, led by many of the same players who will battle the Yellow Jackets this Friday in the 2007 postseason, would get another shot, and this time there would be no tomorrow for the loser.
Stephenville knocked off Fort Worth Southwest in the bi-district round, 31-0. Rider followed suit with a 35-14 elimination of FW Boswell, setting the stage for another playoff showdown.
For fans of great defense, the area-round match-up at Dragon Stadium in Southlake was a true classic, with a pair of high-powered offensive units being held in check for most of the game.
The initial scoring came defensively when the first pass attempt by Stephenville quarterback Kody Spano was intercepted and returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Raider defensive back Markelle Martin.
Rider could do nothing offensively to add to the lead, and Stephenville came back with its only effective offense of the game in the second quarter.
Kody Spano tossed a screen to Trey Taylor, who caught the ball at the 10 and finished the play by diving head-first into the pylon to tie the game.
The Jackets found the end zone again four minutes later when Spano led a quick 63-yard scoring drive by hitting Brad Mills with two passes then connecting with Brent McElfresh for a 42-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt was no good, and Stephenville led 13-7 at the half.
That was it for the Stephenville offense, as Rider shut the Jackets out in the second half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Rider picked up three points on a short field goal with 10:45 remaining in the game.
The Raiders were still without an offensive touchdown and facing third-and-goal from the Stephenville 12 with under a minute to play.
Finally, Beaver led Rider to the end zone, hitting leading receiver Eric Ward with the game-winning pass.
Only 29 seconds remained after the Raider touchdown, and Spano was picked off as Stephenville made a last-ditch effort, allowing Rider to hold on for the17-13 win.
Defense was indeed the story of the game, as Stephenville was held to its lowest scoring output of the season.
Rider went on to the state quarterfinal (Region I final) of the Class 4A Division II playoffs before falling to Wolfforth Frenship, 20-17. Before the loss, the Raiders followed their upset of Stephenville with a 48-0 shutout of El Paso Chapin.
With a strong core of players returning for both Rider and Stephenville, and with another confrontation scheduled for week three of the 2007 season, it was immediately clear that more chapters would soon to be added to what was quickly becoming one of North Texas' biggest football rivalries.
Stephenville isn't winless against Rider. Despite falling to the Raiders twice in the playoffs, Stephenville has knocked Rider off twice in regular season play. Part three of The Nemesis re-visits the Stephenville win in week three of the 2006 season.
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124 ext. 241, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.