Riverside Military Academy picked a good night to play its most complete game of the season.
In front of big homecoming crowd, the Eagles snapped a six-game losing streak with a 23-6 win over Athens Christian on Friday at Maginnis Field. They celebrated by giving coach Chris Cotter a homecoming Gatorade bath.
"At 1-6, it would have been real easy for these kids to shut it down," said Cotter. "But they didn't and came out here fired up and played great. I'm really, really proud of this team."
Riverside (2-6, 1-3 Region 8-AA) got first-half touchdowns from Fernando Weiner and Tarvin Dukes and three field goals from Victor Salcito to pick up its first win since Week 1.
But it was the Eagles' defense that stole the show on Friday.
Riverside forced five turnovers and held Athens Christian (2-5, 1-1 Region 8-AA) only six first downs. Athens Christian finished with only 162 yards of offense.
"Our defense has been extraordinary all season," said an excited Cotter. "They really have."
Stephen Pluhar picked off two passes, including one late in the first half that ended an Athens' scoring threat and preserved a 17-6 halftime lead for the Eagles. Austin Bailey had one of six Riverside sacks and also recovered a fumble. Cotter also praised the defensive efforts of Marlan Edwards and Dukes.
Riverside freshman quarterback Michael Gallup completed 8 of 16 passes for 118 yards. He delivered a scrambling 21-yard strike to Weiner to put the Eagles up 10-0 with five minutes left in the second quarter.
Athens Christian answered with 30-yard touchdown pass from Chris Resop to Daniel Shealy to cut the lead to 10-6. Davonta Appleby's 73-yard kickoff return set up the visitors' only score of the night.
Dukes extended Riverside's lead on a 25-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown run with two minutes before half.
Salcito iced the game with two field goals in the second half. He also nailed a 47-yard kick for Riverside's first score of the night.
Resop finished 10-of-17 for 102 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Riverside heads into its bye week feeling good. When asked what his team has improved the most at, Cotter said, "everything."