Having two players combine to score 56 points in the first half would put a smile on the face of any basketball coach, so one can imagine the grin that Tim McGill sported when he could make the same exact claim as a football coach.
In just 24 minutes of play, Hayden Robinson scored five touchdowns – rushing for four on just five carries while collecting a pick six for the fifth – and Connor Cotterman punched in three TDs of his own while scoring another eight points with his boot as Riverside overwhelmed a visiting Cedarville squad, 56-14, in the Pirates’ home opener in DeGraff Sept. 11.
With the win, Riverside is off to its first 3-0 start on the gridiron in 13 years.
Riverside didn’t give Cedarville time to get its footing on the rain-drenched field, dropping 21 points on the Indians (1-2 overall) before the salt hit the popcorn in the concession stand. Cotterman returned the opening kickoff 35 yards into Cedarville territory. Four plays later, the Pirates were in the end zone. Add Robinson’s pick six, then another turnover deep in Indian territory and yet another Robinson run for a TD and…you get the picture. The Pirates set up camp in the red zone and stayed put for the next two quarters. They put up good, but not gaudy, offensive numbers (11 first downs, 376 rushing yards, just under 400 total yards) because it simply wasn’t necessary. Riverside was playing football on a 40-yard pitch until halftime.
“You have to give credit to the defense and the special teams for that,” McGill said. “We were playing on a short field all night. That’s a testament to just how well they played.”
Jon Norris recovered a fumble – he’s picked one up in all three of Riverside’s games this year – and led the Pirate defense, which limited the visitors a minuscule 32 total yards in the first half. Norris ended the game with nine tackles. Cotterman had eight tackles, Shawn Crawford had six, and Hunter Kreglow recorded the Pirates’ lone sack.
Riverside ended the game with 376 rushing yards, with 11 players running the ball at some point. All were led by Cotterman, who broke out for 164 yards on just eight carries, while Robinson is in the running for the That’s-Gotta-Be-A-Typo Award for stat line of the year: five carries, 71 yards, one INT, 30 points.
McGill took the foot off the pedal in the second half as the continuous clock ran, Riverside not scoring any more points following the break and giving up touchdowns to Cedarville in each of the third and fourth quarters.
Any coach would be pleased with a 3-0 start, but for Riverside the rubber hits the road starting Friday, Sept. 18, with a game at Ft. Loramie, kicking off the Northwest Central Conference schedule that the Pirates will face from here on out. The Redskins crumpled the Pirates shot at the playoffs in 2014 with a 22-21 OT win in DeGraff, but have stumbled out of the gate this season with a 0-3 start.
“Don’t let that fool you,” McGill said of the Redskins’ winless record in 2015. He pointed out that the three teams the Redskins have played this season – Ada, Fort Recovery, and Minster – have a combined record of 8-1. “Fort Loramie is a very good football team that has played a very tough schedule. You can’t count them out for a second.”
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.