Behind a dynamic offense that finished with over 200 rushing yards, a game-changing kickoff return and a defense that controlled the last 10 minutes of the game, Riverside Military Academy defeated Providence Christian 27-24 at Maginnis Field in Gainesville on Friday night.
The second half had three lead changes alone as Riverside (1-1, 1-0 Region 8-A) overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit behind quarterback Isaac Teasley, who rushed for 84 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He completed five of his seven passes for 76 yards and a score.
Riverside coach Kelly Davis said of Teasley’s performance, “He was spectacular, unbelievable. He was great running the ball, throwing the ball, on special teams. He did it all. But what I’m most proud of was that he thanked his offensive line in the huddle after the game. That’s an unselfish player and that’s what we’re trying to get here at Riverside.”
The Storm (1-1) had 245 yards total offense (142 rushing 103 passing) at halftime behind quarterback Mitchell Miller, who had 83 yards rushing on two zone read option keepers that went for 36- and 47-yard touchdown runs on consecutive possessions in the second quarter. That gave the Storm a 17-7 lead.
Teasley hit Charles Dimnwaobi on a short 13-yard crossing pattern that he took 46 yards to the house to pull Riverside to within 17-14 on their first possession of the third quarter.
Two possessions later after a fumble recovery by Lyle Lopez, Teasley scampered down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown to give the Eagles their first lead since they went on top 7-0 to open the game.
The possession began with two holding penalties that led to Teasley’s run on a second-and-34. A bobbled hold on the point after gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead that might have proved costly later.
The Storm answered behind Miller’s 10-yard keeper, giving Providence Christian a 24-20 lead at the 10:25 mark of the fourth. Miller hit David Sloan on a 45-yard deep post a few plays before Miller crossed the goal line.
Teasley then made the game-changing play on special teams as he returned a kickoff 97 yards to give the Eagles a 27-24 lead at with 10:10 remaining in the game.
“It wasn’t all on me. It was my teammates that did a great job of blocking for me which led to the score,” the sophomore transfer from Gainesville said of the play.
The Eagles controlled most of the second half as Riverside’s defense held Providence Christian to only 16 yards on eight carries in the half and only 8 yards on six carries in the final quarter. Lopez had a sack and recovered a fumble for the Eagles.
“We challenged our defense at halftime,” Davis said. “We gave up a couple of big plays in the first half but the option is tough to play against. You have to be disciplined and handle your responsibilities.”
Riverside closed the game by rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries over its final two possessions.
“Once we started running the ball we ate up clock and that became a huge factor as we just wanted to get first downs,” Kelly said of challenging his offensive line to close out the game.
Justin Eagen had 66 yards on eight carries and Stephen Aleandre added 61 yards on nine carries.
The game started rough for the Eagles, who only scored once in their first three possessions despite starting in Storm territory each time due to special teams miscues (a blocked and dropped punt).
Teasley hit Lopez off a 3-yard bootleg to begin the second quarter finishing off an eight-play, 40-yard drive. The two other drives ended with missed field goals.
The Storm had only 13 yards on seven plays in the first quarter but revved up their offense behind Miller’s two keepers for scores. A woeful possession by Riverside that was capped by three consecutive penalties and a bobbled punt gave the Storm the ball at the Eagles-20 yard line which resulted in a 38-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the visitors the 17-7 lead.
“We’ve been talking about the word 'program' in the five years I’ve been here, and this is a program win,” Davis said of his team’s comeback effort. “This is the first come-from-behind win we’ve had since I’ve been here and I just can’t say enough about my coaching staff and these players. To be down 17-7 at the half and we battled back is unbelievable. You’ve got to tip your hat to Providence. They gave a great effort but I’m so proud of our guys.”
Riverside (1-1) is at George Walton Academy next week while Providence Academy (1-1) hosts Hebron Christian.