Robert E. Lee Rewind: Raiders lose heartbreaker at Mesquite

Robert E. Lee's RB Ladarius Wickware (21) breaks off a huge run, during the Red Raiders district game with Mesquite, at E.H. Hamby Stadium in Mesquite, Friday night. (Lang White / Correspondent)

Final score: Mesquite 57, Robert E. Lee 56

Turning point: The Red Raiders had an opportunity to build a two-score lead midway through the fourth quarter after Campbell Miller recovered a fumble at the Skeeters 37. REL had scored on three of its past four drives, but was stopped on third-and-1 followed by an incomplete pass on fourth down.

The game was over when: The Red Raiders led 56-49 with less than two minutes remaining following a 44-yard TD run by Ladarius Wickware. Mesquite moved to midfield, but on second-and-7 Skeeters QB Anthony Tennison was called for intentional grounding. That made it third-and-33. Mesquite got half of that with a pass to Chance Fisher. Then on fourth-and-12, Tennison was flushed out of the pocked and lofted a wobbly prayer near the sideline. His was answered when Fisher took advantage of the REL defensive back slipping to catch the pass and score a 46-yard TD. Mesquite opted to go for two and its first lead since late in the first half and Fisher did the rest. REL had a chance to win the game, but after a touchback pinned the Red Raiders back to their own 25 with 42 seconds left, Lee had three deep passes fall incomplete and the quarterback was sacked on fourth down to end the game.

Key stats: Lee's D held Mesquite to 52 yards rushing in the first half, with Fisher a non-factor. The Skeeters finished with 242, led by Fisher's 210 yards. The Red Raiders broke through offensively in third third quarter for the first time in district play, putting two touchdowns on the board off a 72-yard TD run by Ladarius Wickware and punishing 50-yard QB keeper for a touchdown by Chance Amie.

Warning signs: The Red Raiders were 0 for 5 on third-down conversions in the first half. REL improved greatly in the second half and converted two fourth downs, but also turned it over on downs three times. Lee's secondary, after allowing two passing TDs total in its first three non-district games, has given up 10 in four district games.

Positive signs: Lee sophomore Ladarius Wickware was unstoppable, rushing 20 times for 267 yards and 5 TDs (64, 19, 72, 4, 44). The Red Raiders entered averaging 306 yards rushing per game and were even more impressive against Mesquite. Along with Wickware, Amie finished with 149 yards and 2 TDs as part of 449 on the ground.

What this loss means: The Red Raiders are mathematically eliminated from postseason play. Lee has a chance to snap a five-game skid at home against Rockwall.

Fast forward: The Red Raiders (2-5, 0-4 District 11-6A) host Rockwall (2-5, 2-2) for Senior Night on Friday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

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