Riverside Military Academy and Lakeview Academy played close for a half of football, but the Eagle rushing attack came alive in the second half, powering through the Lakeview Academy for a 40-0 win.
“I think we came out a little flat,” Riverside Military head coach Nick Garrett said. “... But we’re really excited about the outcome.”
Quarterback Isaac Teasley led the way offensively for the Eagles (4-3, 3-1 Region 8-A), rushing for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns and adding 65 yards through the air on 8 for 17 passing. Shad Dabney grabbed a pair of interceptions, the first of which he returned all the way back for a defensive score.
Yet despite the lopsided final score, the teams started the game off close, locked in a defensive struggle for much of the first half. Each of the four first-quarter possessions — two for each team — ended in a punt, with neither side managing to gain more than one first down in a drive.
Garrett said his team’s “extremely disciplined” defense was invaluable in bailing out a stagnating offense early in the game.
“We had 11 hats flying to the ball, putting them in uncomfortable situations, which helped us offensively, trying to figure out a rhythm, trying to figure out an identity,” he said.
After the defense forced a third straight punt early in the second quarter, the Riverside Military offense started to find that rhythm.
First, Teasley hit Khalid Duke on a 15-yard pass — the longest gain of the night for either team to that point. Rushes of 16 and 15 yards from Teasley and Jordan Battles, respectively, pushed the ball down the field, and while the Eagles couldn’t get into the end zone, they did manage to get on the board with a short field goal from Michael Madichie to make it 3-0.
Lakeview’s defense managed to fight back, forcing a Dylan Parr fumble around midfield on Riverside Military’s next possession, but the offense could not take advantage of the excellent field possession, as the Lions’ Brandon Wilson coughed up a fumble of his own just two plays later.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to capitalize on the turnover.
Teasley used his speed to get to the edge on the first play of the drive, picking up 37 yards down the left sideline. He finished the possession off with a 4-yard touchdown run a few plays later, giving Riverside Military a 9-0 lead with less than a minute to go until halftime.
The Eagles carried that lead into the break.
And while Riverside Military was on top on the scoreboard through 24 minutes, Garrett remained dissatisfied with the way his team was playing. His message to the players at halftime was a simple one.
“We’ve got to match their intensity,” Garrett said. “Lakeview’s coming out with fire, and we’ve got to fight our butts off, match that intensity and then go above that.”
Apparently, Garrett’s message was heard.
Riverside Military came bursting out of the gate in the third quarter, driving down the field in just five plays in an opening drive that culminated in a 33-yard scoring run from Teasley, his second of the night. Teasley said he and the rest of the team understood the importance of scoring early in the second half after a sluggish start to the first one.
“That was everything,” he said. “Getting that score in the beginning gave us energy.”
Teasley’s score did seem to ignite the defense, as Shad Dabney picked off Lions (0-7, 0-4) quarterback Luke Bornhorst, taking it all the way back for a touchdown that put the Eagles up 23-0.
And after a Madichie field goal made it 26-0 on the team’s following drive, the Riverside Military defense was at it again, forcing a fumble and recovering it in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Lakeview Academy picked up a few first downs on the ensuing possession in a last-ditch effort to avoid the shutout, but quarterback Ben Puckett’s fourth-down pass attempt was dropped around midfield, allowing the Eagles to take back over. With the game already well out of reach, a 20-yard touchdown scamper from Stephen Aleandre put the final touch on the 40-0 road win.
“That second half showcased what Eagle football is all about,” Garrett said. “We started off a little slow, but it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”
Lakeview Academy visits Prince Avenue Christian on Friday; Riverside Military hosts Hebron Christian at Maginnis Field.