River Just Too Much for Bridgeport, 34-16
After seven weeks of action, River is 6-1. That’s just fine with veteran coach Mike Flannery.
“Right where we want to be,” Flannery said after watching his Pilots navigate their way to a 34-16 victory on Perkins Field against homestanding Bridgeport (3-4) Friday night, spoiling Homecoming festivities at Bill Jobko Stadium. “I’m pleased we won.”
River, which was No. 7 in the latest Division VI, Region 21 ratings, bolted to a 28-0 lead in the first half on the passing of senior quarterback Joey Flannery. The son of the coach tossed three touchdowns, two going to shifty sophomore Lukas Isaly.
The Pilots went ahead 7-0 after Braden Whetsell capped the opening drive with a 15-yard run that started off right tackle before he cut it back to the middle and went in standing up. Grant Williams converted the extra point.
Drew Dietz picked up a Bridgeport fumble that Luke Matusik caused and returned it to the Bulldogs 24 to set the Pilots up again. Eight plays later, Flannery rewarded Dietz for his defensive efforts by rifling a 10-yard laser to the sophomore in the left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-9 for a 14-0 advantage following Williams’ PAT.
River let another scoring opportunity slip through its fingers on the next possession when a fourth-down play came up short, but the defense stood tall and got the ball right back.
Flannery and Isaly hooked up for the first of their two scoring strikes six plays later. Running down the sideline, Isaly hauled in a 16-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone before being sandwiched by two Bulldogs. However, he held on to the ball for six points and a 21-0 lead with 8:30 left in the first half.
Mason Ladyga gave the visitors another chance to increase their lead when he recovered a fumble at the Bridgeport 15, but a holding infraction set the Pilots back. However, a fumbled snap on fourth-and-1 stopped the drive.
A three-and-out by the Bulldogs gave the Pilots another short field to work with, and they made quick work of it. Flannery spotted Isaly on a wheel route down the sideline for a 20-yard gain, but Isaly made a pair of Bulldogs miss before cutting across the grain and completing a 48-yard scoring connection.
Bridgeport got on the board before the first half came to a close as Tino Kusic bulled his way into the end zone from 2 yards out in the final minute. He then found Thomas Coyne for a 2-point conversion and a 28-8 River lead at the half.
Parker Caretti’s 7-yard run bumped the margin to 34-8 early in the third quarter, but the Pilots didn’t do much after that as Bridgeport seized the momentum.
“We’re working on things and playing new people,” Flannery said. “You’ve got to work on things for the next game if you have the opportunity to do that. We were doing a couple of things different tonight to look at them, and we were looking at a lot of people.
“We got a lot of kids to play and they were playing in the second quarter. I’m not disappointed at all.”
On the other side of the field, first-year Bridgeport coach Zach Melton was pleased with his team’s defensive effort, despite giving up 34 points.
“Our defense played very well in the first half and the second half,” he said. “We shut down their attack, but our defense was on the field way too much. Our offense was killing us because we were giving them a short field to work with. We can’t have that if we want to compete.”
Bridgeport completed the scoring when Carlos Kusic ran around left end from a yard out. Tino Kusic found Jeremiah Booker for the two points.
“We made some adjustments at the half and came out and played pretty well,” Melton added. “We need to get our trenches going for next week.”
Flannery finished 15 of 30 for 164 yards and three TDs. He was picked off once. Isaly hauled in six of those completions for 108 yards and the two scores. Whetsell had four receptions and a team-best 36 yards on the ground.
Tino Kusic completed 10 of 25 for 105 yards and an interception. He also led the Bulldogs with 40 yards rushing. Carlos Kusic caught five passes for 59 yards.