It is said that momentum swings in football are almost palpable, and both players and spectators can feel the burden lifted off one team and dumped on the other. Nowhere was that more apparent than at the Riverside/Ft. Loramie football game Sept. 18.
Twice the host Redskins found themselves inside the Pirate 10-yard line at the end of first and beginning of the second quarters and twice the Pirates turned them away without allowing a score. Thanks to a fourth-and-goal stop at the three-yard line, which was followed by Shawn Crawford’s 93-yard interception return for a touchdown on Ft. Loramie’s next possession, Riverside turned what could have been disastrous four-minute sequence into a 7-0 lead.
After Crawford’s pick-six, Riverside shook off Ft. Loramie, putting it into the end zone three more times before the ‘Skins were able to score, capping a 28-7 win that propelled the Pirates to a 4-0 record and the #4 slot the first OSHAA computer rankings (Div. 7, Region 26) of the 2015 season. The game was opener of Northwest Central Conference play for both teams as Ft. Loramie fell to 0-4 on the year. The Pirate win also avenged a one-point loss to the ‘Skins in the final game of the 2014, which knocked Riverside out of playoff contention.
Riverside head coach Tim McGill said that the Pirates’ goal-line stand and Crawford’s pick six was ‘’huge” for his team,.
“We had some young guys on offense who were a little jittery,” McGill said, “but the defense has a lot of older players. Once the defense stepped up, we said to ourselves ‘We’re settled in now, we know who we are, and what we do. We just need to go out and do it.’ “
As has been the script for Riverside all year, the Pirates combining a stellar defense with a tough, grind-‘em-out running game that kept the ball out of the ‘Skins hands. Connor Cotterman was his usual competent self, rushing the ball 21 times for 129 yards and a touchdown while knocking heads for 11 tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Hayden Robinson carried the ball 10 times for 66 yards and a score, and Joey Kaeck punched it in from the one-yard line on his only carry. The Pirates ended the game with 236 rushing yards and 380 all-purpose yards, while allowing Ft. Loramie a scanty 243 all-purpose yards.
Jon Norris led the defense with 12 tackles, while the Crawford brothers, Shane and Shawn, combined for 22 tackles.
Because of a scheduling quirk, three of Riverside’s four wins on the season have been on the road and the Pirates must the hit the blacktop once again Friday, Sept. 25 with another NWCC contest at Ridgemont. After that, Riverside will return to the friendly confines of DeGraff for four of their last five games, all of which are against NWCC opponents.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.