The River Pilots scored all their 24 game points in the first half Oct. 19 and that was sufficient to hold off Buckeye Trail, who scored 14 markers in the fourth period. The victory moved River to 6-3 on the season and kept alive its Division VI, Region 23 playoff hopes.
River's Colton Wright drilled a 25-yard field goal for the game's first points in the opening period to take a 3-0 lead. Afterward, Nick Asturi rambled for 30 yards and the game's first touchdown to move the Pilots ahead 10-0 after one period of play.
Because of the rain and muddy conditions at Buckeye Trail, the Pilots elected to grind it out with the dynamic duo of Asturi and Jordan Sapp doing most of the damage in the first half of play.
After recovering a Warrior muff punt, Pilot quarterback Cody "Golden Arm" Caldwell went to the run, dragging numerous opponents with him into the end zone for a one-yard TD plunge and a 17-0 advantage that included the PAT kick from Wright.
Asturi would tack on another TD run with a four-yard scamper to give River what appeared to be a comfortable 24-0 lead at the break.
Asturi - who had already scampered for 60 yards and two TDs - turned his ankle early in the third period and had to be carried off the field, never to return.
Trail would score in the fourth period with a two-yard run and two-point conversion that made the score 24-8 with more than eight minutes remaining in regulation.
After the ensuing kick, the Pilots coughed up the slippery pigskin at their own 24 yard line, but the Pilot defense held its ground and took over on downs.
However, the Warriors forced a three-and-out to make the Pilots punt. But, this time, the Pilot snap sailed over Wright's head, forcing him to scramble. He fell a little short in making a first down and Buckeye Trail was in business.
It didn't take Trail long to score, as they converted on a nifty 15-yard TD pitch-and-catch to pull to within 10 points in the four minutes of the game.
River, however, would rely on the running of Sapp to expire time and give River a much-deserved victory.
Sapp led all ball carriers with 145 yards on 25 touches, while Asturi rushed 10 times for 60 yards and a pair of TD runs.
Caldwell completed 3-7 passes - one to Asturi for 21 yards, one to Kameron Brown for two yards, and one to Bryce Cross for minus eight yards.
Defensively, J. D. Dotson led the way with seven solo tackles, including five for a loss of yards. He also assisted on eight other stops and sacked the Trail quarterback once.
Jonathan Stewart made 11 tackles, three of which went for loss of yardage, and made a fumble recovery.
In addition, Cross made 10 stops, while Brown added five tackles and returned an interception for 97 yards.
There were only 11 first downs in the game, with seven of them coming from River. The Pilot defense held the Warriors to 54 yards rushing and 86 yards passing, while River accumulated more than 200 yards.
The Pilots will celebrate Parents' Day at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at Magnolia's Alumni Field, before taking on the Frontier Cougars at 3 p.m.