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Eagles 28, Patriots 20
Difference maker: Collin Pettell passed for 336 yards and one touchdown helped the Riverside offense on a night when running the ball was tough.
Stat that matters: Collin Pettell’s 336-passing yards was more than the Patriots’ total yards for the game.
Turning point: Up only two points with 3:30 left in the game, Riverside running back Cory Tidwell caught a 46-yard pass from Pettell on third-and-10 on the Eagles’ final drive. The catch moved the ball down to the Patriots’ 11-yard line. On the next play, Tidwell scored his second touchdown of the game giving the Eagles the victory.
Who’s next: Riverside travels to Rabun County. Oglethorpe County is at Union County.
With the run game struggling to gain traction and penalties calling two touchdowns back, Riverside Military Academy had to persevere for its first region win of the year.
Riverside (2-2, 1-1 Region 8-AA) defeated Oglethorpe County (0-4, 0-1) 28-20, Friday night at Maginnis Field.
The Eagles’ offense was led by senior quarterback Collin Pettell, who was 14 of 21 passing for 336 yards and one touchdown. Pettell completed his first seven passes of the game, and passed for 221 yards in the first half.
“Another step in the process of improvement as a team,” Riverside head coach Gary Downs said. “We secured the ball a little better tonight. Still had a lot of penalties. We left, probably, left 28 points on the board because we had two touchdowns called back tonight.”
“It’s a young team still learning how to win. But we’re better than last year. We started with preparation, and once again, it’s hard work. It’s a process. That’s what it is. And we’re getting better. And we’re happy to take the win.”
Riverside junior wide receiver Christopher Howard caught four passes for a game-high 115 yards and one touchdown. His complement, junior wide receiver Raleigh Beougher added five more catches for 106 yards.
Beougher also rushed for 18 yards and one touchdown.
Riverside sophomore running back Cory Tidwell rushed for 62 yards and two scores and caught two passes for 59 yards.
After missing a field goal on their first possession, the Eagles’ offense was given a reprieve when the defense came up with a fumble recovery.
Beougher then capped the drive, scoring from 1 yard out. After a two-point play was converted, the Eagles held a 8-0 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Oglethorpe answered when running back Juvuan Mallory punched in a touchdown run from 5 yards out. However, Oglethorpe couldn’t convert the two-point conversion, keeping the score 8-6.
On the Eagles next drive, it took one play for Pettell to find Howard with 73-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 15-6 lead at the half.
On the Eagles first drive of the third quarter, Pettell saw a 67-yard touchdown strike get called back by a penalty. The drive ended in a punt.
The Eagles racked up 13 penalties for nearly 100 yards.
As the Patriots’ offense looked to capitalize and put themselves back into the game, the Eagles’ defense came up with a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchback.
“Our defense knuckled down,” Downs said. “We work turnovers two or three times a week. So, it was just an element of what we work on in practice (coming) fruition in the game.”
However, the Eagles gave the ball back on a fumble of their own. Oglethorpe quarterback Tyler Hooper found Harrison Sharp on a 41-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Eagles lead 15-13 to start the fourth quarter.
On the Eagles final two drives, Tidwell delivered his blows to the Patriots’ defense, scoring on a 28-yard touchdown run with 8:16 left in the game.
After another Hooper pass found the end zone for the Patriots to make the score 22-20, Tidwell came up with a big catch of his own, catching a 46-yard strike from Pettell to set-up a touchdown the very next play, which Tidwell scored.
Riverside travels to Rabun County next week. Oglethorpe County travels to Union County.