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When the excitement of Senior Night is combined with a must-win game for a playoff berth, it is understandable to be a little too fired up.
Fortunately for Riverside Military Academy, the excitement cooled down quickly, giving way to a sense of urgency that helped propel the Eagles to an easy 27-0 win over Dawson County.
With the win, Eagles earned their second straight postseason berth, which will result in a trip next Friday night to Callaway High in LaGrange.
Dawson County took the opening kickoff and marched downfield, getting to the Riverside 4-yard-line in just five plays. But from there, the Eagles’ defense stiffened and stopped Dawson on three straight plays to force a turnover on downs.
"I think we just kind of settled down; there was a lot of energy tonight," Riverside coach Scot Sloan said. "But it was good to see the defense blow them back and keep them out of the end zone"
Offensively, Riverside was able to change the field position battle with its first drive before quickly getting it back at midfield for its second possession. Three plays later, quarterback Lucas Bersin scrambled 38 yards for the game’s first score.
The Eagle defense made the game’s next big play, forcing a fumble that William Craven recovered at the Dawson 19. On the next play, Brian Cox ran an inside trap 19 yards for a touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead.
The Riverside defense took over from there, spending a fair amount of time in the Tiger offensive backfield for the remainder of the contest.
Marlan Edwards was biggest factor, collecting four sacks in what Sloan termed his best game of the season. He wasn’t alone as Aaron Gambrah was all over the field making tackles and adding two sacks of his own. The Eagle defense collected eight for the game.
"Aaron’s been that way all three years we’ve had him. He plays with a motor and great passion," Sloan said.
Bersin’s arm helped lead the Eagles to their final two scores. He engineered a four-play, 50-yard drive early in the second quarter that he capped with a 9-yard scoring strike to Richard Tribble.
Early in the fourth, he capped the scoring with an 18-yard pass to Cole Tudor, who had a solid game on the ground as well.
Bersin ran nine times for 113 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, he was 9-13 for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
"He did a nice job, especially on the scoring drive in the second half," said Sloan.