Riverside dodged a bullet after allowing Elbert County to pull a spectacular comeback in the final moments of Friday night’s game in which Riverside won 21-20.
With the ball, and up by seven with 1:44 left in the game, Riverside (1-0) fumbled the ball and kicked it around until junior defensive lineman Eric Crenshaw of Elbert County (0-1) came out of the pile with possession.
From there the Blue Devils had trouble moving the ball until junior quarterback Tyheem Newman hit fullback Rod Reid over the middle for a 30-yard catch and run to the pilon for a touchdown.
Elbert County coach Brent Miller opted to try for the two-point conversion to win the game in regulation, but was denied on a run to the right side by the stiff Riverside defense that stopped the running game of Elbert County on most drives throughout the night.
Riverside grabbed the ensuing onside kick and took a knee on the last play of the game to seal the victory.
The final seconds of the first half were a little better to Elbert County.
To go along with the mishaps at the end of the game, Newman hit senior Jay Copeland with a 37-yard bomb that set-up a 3-yard touchdown run by Hughes that came with four seconds remaining in the half. Copeland also pulled down an interception thrown by Riverside’s backup quarterback Lucas Bersin in the second half.
Riverside turned the ball over three times, while Elbert County put up a goose egg in that category, but that was not enough.
The Eagles ran the ball all night in a variety of fashions and racked up 232 yards on the ground on 42 carries. They ran up the middle with senior running back Logan Clemens, who had 96 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, and around the ends with senior running back Taylor Peterson and junior quarterback Julian Suber, who also scored a touchdown.
Elbert County tried to keep up with a running game of their own, but it was not enough.
Senior running back Ronnie Hughes got most of the carries with 18 attempts for 44 yards and two touchdowns. His teammates Austin Jones and Valdon Cooper carried the ball 11 times for a combined 119 yards to help out his efforts.
Jones had an end-around run that took him 51 yards down the sideline in the first quarter but the drive died out after that. Cooper added some explosiveness of his own with a 27 yard scamper in the second quarter.
Riverside’s defense was led by senior linebacker Diego Osegeuda-Weiner, who recorded 12 tackles.
Junior linebacker Aaron Gambrah and safety Victor Frick combined for 14 tackles for the Eagles.