Rabun County 42, Riverside 0
Difference maker: Bailey Fisher 14-for-19 for 232 yards with 3 TDs and a fourth rushing
Stat that matters: Riverside finished with only 60 yards of total offense
Up next: Rabun County is off next week before facing Social Circle Oct. 2; Riverside is at Johnson Friday.
The Rabun County Wildcats began defense of their 8-AA region title with a 42-0 victory over Riverside Military Academy on Friday night at McGinnis Field in the region opener for both teams.
The game was never in doubt as the Eagles (0-3, 0-1 region) couldn’t muster a first down until 1:28 before halftime. They had only 44 first-half yards and 60 for the game.
Meanwhile, Rabun County (4-1, 1-0) methodically marched up and down the field behind quarterback Bailey Fisher’s three touchdowns through the air, two to University of Georgia commit Charlie Woerner, as the Wildcats passed for 125 first half yards while rushing for 42. The Wildcats finished the game with 295 yards (232 passing, 63 rushing).
The score was 21-0 before Riverside posted a first down on an 11-yard scamper by quarterback Chandler Jones.
After a quick three and out for Riverside on its first possession, Eagles defensive lineman Elijah Watson sacked Fisher on the Wildcats’ first play. After that, it was all Rabun, which scored on the next three possessions, two of them starting inside the Riverside 40-yard line. In all, the Wildcats started five of their six first-half possessions inside the Riverside 40.
The Eagles began their first half drives no better than their own 20-yard line.
“Rabun County kept us pinned in our own territory and that kind of limited our play calling a little bit,” Riverside coach Kelly Davis said of the special teams play. “We’ve been working on it from last week and there was a big improvement in our special teams but we’ll have to get back to it this week and fix a few things.”
Woerner began the scoring for Rabun County on a 15-yard score on an inside slant from Fisher at the 4:52 mark of the first quarter. The key on the four-play, two-minute drive was an offsides by Riverside on a third-and-4, giving the Wildcats a first down before Woerner’s touchdown reception.
After a 14-yard Riverside punt gave the Wildcats possession at the Eagles’ 30, Fisher finished the next drive with a 9-yard score on a quarterback sweep for a 14-0 lead. The score was set up by three runs from running back Eli Gipson late in the first quarter.
The Wildcats boosted their lead to 21-0 an eight-play, 60-yard drive on a 6-yard toss across the field from Fisher to receiver Aiden Wright early in the second quarter. Riverside, meanwhile, struggled as seven first half possessions ended in six three-and-outs and Rabun’s defensive line lived in the Eagles’ backfield for much of the night.
The second half began much like the first with Rabun opening the scoring on a 1-yard run by running back Cal Drummond to push the lead to 28-0. The key play was a 39-yard pass down the seam to receiver Tristan Hughes from Fisher on a three-play drive that again began at the Riverside 40-yard line after a 17-yard punt.
Rabun’s next drive began with a 29-yard flip pass from Fisher to Woerner and ended with an 11-yard pass to Wright as the 35-0 lead near the end of the third quarter started a running clock. Fisher finished the night completing 14 of his 19 passes for 232 yards and three scores.
The scoring concluded with a 1-yard run by Adam Harrup one play after a fumble by Jones midway through the fourth quarter. Fisher spread the wealth as seven different Wildcat receivers caught passes, with Woerner leading the way with five receptions for 71 yards and two scores. Drummond led Rabun County with 35 yards on the ground as Riverside’s front seven limited inside rushes, but couldn’t handle the Wildcats’ high-octane quick passing game.
The Eagles’ best scoring threat came on their last possession in which Jones completed three passes for 48 yards to receiver Javon Thompson. The 10-play, 50 yard drive ended with a missed 27-yard field goal. This was just Jones’ second start at quarterback as he just got to campus days before last week’s game, and completed 13-of-23 passes for 102 yards.
Kaseem Duke led the Eagles with 31 yards rushing on 10 carries and Juwan Thompson led the receivers with 31 yards on two receptions. Defensively, Riverside didn’t force a turnover for the first time in three games after forcing multiple turnovers in the previous two.
“We’ve got to keep battling,” Kelly said. “That’s a team that won the region last year and we fought with them to the end but we just have to continue to get better every week. This game is all about timing. It starts up front and we have to get better blocking up front and then we’ll work out those timing issues with the quarterback and wide receivers and continue to get that run game going.”
“We kept competing until the end. We really did. We moved the ball up and down the field pretty good we just have to learn to close it out now.”
Rabun County is off next week before Social Circle. Riverside is at Johnson next week in a non-region clash.