River Pilots Remain Undefeated
There’s a reason teams don’t look too much into statistics, and there is not a better game to look at more recently than River’s game with Bridgeport in a battle of unbeatens in the ranks of Division VI.
The Bulldogs out-rushed the Pilots 197 yards to 97 and had more first downs. But, River worked all aspects of the game to steamroll over Bridgeport 49-6.
Coming in, the game had some hype, considering the Pilots were ranked No. 1 in the section and the ‘Dogs were positioned at No. 2. Considering the quality teams that River has played so far and the fact it was homecoming at Flannery Field, Bridgeport was at a bigger disadvantage.
After exchanging possessions to open the game, River got the sternwheel rolling with a couple of touchdowns. The first was an 11 yard pass from Dylan Potts to Daniel Starr.
The second came from Tyler Brooks on a one-yard plunge, one of three scores by him on the day. The drive was setup by the special teams penetrating the line on a punt and causing the kick to be shanked, going out on the 14-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Brothers Smelley couldn’t generate any offensive production at all and the first quarter wasn’t even over. To make matters worse, River had the ball again to close out the quarter and were a yard out.
On the opening play of the second quarter, Jordan Clegg punched it in and gave the Pilots command of a 21-0 lead. The punt was touched by a Bulldog and was picked up by Starr, who returned it for a touchdown. However, an inadvertent whistle brought the ball back to the 25.
It was at this point that the Bulldogs capped off a 76-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard TD run for Bridgeport’s only score of the game. From there, River increased the defensive pressure that resulted in Bridgeport’s inability to pick up any positive yardage for the rest of the game.
“They did everything we expected them to do,” said RHS Head Coach Mike Flannery. “They had the speed we expected. We got a little complacent there when it was 21-0 and we had guys not taking care of their own house. They were trying to take care of everybody else’s. Then, at halftime, we made some adjustments and got after them in the second half.”
Special teams dominance continued for River as Tyler Jeffers blocked a punt that set-up a 10-yard run by Dylan Potts to make it 28-6.
The punting problems were probably influential in the Bulldog decision to call a fake punt on their next fourth down, but that was sniffed out by River. Brooks capped off the ensuing drive with a touchdown from the one yard line. Flannery was very aware of how well his special teams have played as of late and had high expectations coming into the game.
“We thought we could block a punt. We did. We thought we could get it again. The first time we came close to blocking it and that caused him to muff it a little bit. I think our first four drives started on their side of the 50 and that makes play calling a little bit easier and opens up the playbook a little bit.”
River added another touchdown in the third just for good measure. That was on a 40-yard pass with the Dylan and Taylor Potts connection.
“We spread the ball around tonight,” said Flannery. “We wanted to work again on our passing game. We’re getting ready for the playoffs now. We did what we needed to do. We got a lot of playmakers and I think we spread the scoring pretty well tonight.”
The last score of the game would come as Bridgeport was threatening to score on a short field. The ‘Dogs tried a misdirection screen pass play, but Brooks stepped in front of it and ran it back 75 yards to set up the final score 49-6.
Now River will prepare for its next game against Shenandoah.
“These kids have in reach now the goals that they have set. They set out to be OVAC champs, PVC champs, and to win every game. It’s reachable. They see it. They just can’t let down. It’s every game, one game at a time.”