By Anthony Rhoads
Mario Swann scored on a 6-yard run in overtime to lift the Riverdale Raiders to a 21-14 victory over Carver-Columbus Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
With the victory, Riverdale (6-3 overall, 3-3 in Region 4-AAAAA) should be in position to get the No. 4 seed out of Region 4 in the state playoffs.
"I'm speechless almost," Riverdale head coach Rodney Hackney said. "We're so happy for the kids. If Lovejoy wins tonight, we should clinch a playoff spot. Tonight, we're just going to celebrate."
Things didn't go Riverdale's way at first. Carver engineered a 17-play, 68-yard scoring drive to open the game. The drive was capped by a 1-yard run by Garrett Williams with 3:24 remaining in the first quarter.
"They were so big up front; they pushed us around on the line," Hackney said. "That's a tough team; they definitely don't play like a 2-6 team. That shows you how tough our region is. You have to be ready to play every night."
Riverdale came back to score twice in the second quarter with a 6-yard run by Doug Jennings and a 5-yard run by Swann.
Swann led Riverdale with 88 yards on 14 carries and Jennings added 79 yards on 13 carries.
Carver tied the game at 14-14 when Gregory McClendon scored on a 6-yard run with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter.
McClendon led all rushers with 135 yards on 36 carries.
Carver had a chance in the second quarter and was pushing deep into Riverdale territory. Riverdale held and with just seconds remaining, Carver was faced with a fourth-and-10 on the 15-yard line. Riverdale defensive back Rod Copeland intercepted a D.J. Jemison pass as time ran out in the first half.
Copeland also had a 40-yard punt return in the second quarter. Four plays later, Swann scored to give Riverdale a 14-7 lead.
"We didn't play perfect and we made mistakes but we came through when we needed to," Hackney said. "We had some problems early but it ain't how you start, it's how you finish that counts."
Riverdale closes out the regular season next Saturday at Tara Stadium against Lovejoy.
"Al Hughes is a great coach and they do a great job with their P.E. offense," Hackney said. "I guess we have to have our guys practice in P.E. next week and come ready to play."
Scoring by quarters
C - 7 0 7 0 0 14
R - 0 14 0 0 7 21
C Garrett Williams 1 run 3:34 (D.J. Jemison kick)
R Doug Jennings 6 run 7:19 (Abdul Cole kick)
R Mario Swann 5 run 2:23 (Cole kick)
C Gregory McClendon 6 run 2:28 (Jemison kick)
R Swann 10 run (Abdul kick)