River Pilots Drown Columbus Crusaders
The Pilots’ Lukas Isaly was responsible for four River touchdowns, tossing two and running for two others to lead the River Pilots to a 32-14 homecoming victory over the Columbus Crusaders at Flannery Field.
River (5-0) opened the game on a promising drive, only to have it stalled at their own 27-yard line on a fumble. However, three plays later, last week’s Wetzel Chronicle Player of the Week Cody Saksa scooped up a Crusaders fumble and brought it down to the 2-yard line.
It would take four tries, but Islay high-stepped it in for the initial score of the game. The following conversion run failed, putting River up 6-0 at the 7:33 mark.
The Crusaders found itself deep in River territory, but coughed the ball up again, and was recovered by Mason Ladyga this time around.
From there the Pilots mounted an 18-play drive, which again culminated with Islay finding Drew Wagnild wide open across the middle for an 11-yard score. Islay went around left for the conversion putting the hosts up 14-0 with 2:55 left in the first half.
River dented the end zone one more time in the first half, as the Crusaders mis-handled a bad snap on the Pilots 29-yard line. The very next play, Islay took it home to give the hosts a 20-0 lead after the failed conversion run at the break.
During the halftime ceremonies, Parker Caretti and Kristen Deaton was named “Mr. and Miss River 59” as a part of homecoming festivities.
After forcing a Crusaders punt to open the second half once again, Islay finished off a River seven-play drive with a 25-yard strike to Braden Whetsell to give the hosts at commanding 26-0 with 8:45 left in the third.
The Columbus Crusaders found the end zone on their ensuing drive with a two-yard touchdown scamper around the left side to narrow the gap to 26-7 with 4:39 left in the third.
The Pilots’ final score of the evening came before the end of the third period as Whetsell blocked a Crusader punt attempt, and Drew Dietz recovered it in the end-zone for a 32-7 count entering the final quarter.
The Crusaders scored on its next drive from eight-yards making the score to the final verdict of 32-14 after the conversion kick in favor of the Pilots.
Islay finished the evening 12-18 for 126 yards and a pair of scores through the air, while also carrying the ball 14 times for 73-yards and two more touchdowns. Wagnild added 39 yards, while Wetsell netted 19 yards. Dakota Smith and Caretti ended the rushing totals with 13 and three yards, respectively.
Caretti led the receiving corps for the Pilots with four receptions for 78 yards, while Wetsell tacked on 32 yards on two snatches. Dietz added 19 yards on two catches, while Wagnild netted six yards and a score, and Payton Vancamp tacked on 15 yards.
Defensively, Saska led the way with 13 tackles, two were for loss of yardage and made a fumble recovery, while Luke Matusik added 11 stops, one sack and four tackles for loss of yardage.
In addition, Wagnild added 10 tackles, while Isaly tackled eight, and made an interception. Smith made seven tackles, while Tucker Boggs had a QB sack, and Ladyga a fumble recovery.
Although River didn’t earn any playoff points on the victory over the Crusaders, they will still have plenty to play for Friday night as the will host a showdown with fellow unbeaten Shadyside next Friday at 7 p.m. at Flannery Field.