Photos by Derrick Mahone
Riverdale coach Olten Downs talks with game officials prior to Friday’s Region 4-AAAA contest against Mount Zion at Tara Stadium. The Raiders won 44-6 to improve to 2-3 overall and in the region.
Riverdale came out running and never looked back in a 44-6 blowout over the Mount Zion Bulldogs Friday night at Tara Stadium.
The Raiders started out strong with a drive spanning eight plays and 66 yards. Riverdale junior running back Ti’Keem Cooper punched the ball in from the 3-yard line and the Raiders converted a two-point conversion to lead 8-0 with 6:23 left in the first quarter.
Mount Zion had its second three-and-out of the game but quickly recovered when junior linebacker Corey Walls intercepted a pass from Riverdale’s junior quarterback Steve Harris. The interception would prove to be Harris’ lone mistake on an otherwise outstanding outing.
The Bulldogs gained some momentum when junior quarterback Montel Buchanan ran for 14 yards and the first down as the first quarter ended. Two plays later, he seemed on the verge of leading Mount Zion to score when his pass was intercepted at the one-yard line by the Raiders’ sophomore defensive back Isa Muhammad.
Muhammad proceeded to side-step several defenders and with the help of a monster block near mid-field, he returned the interception 99 yards for the touchdown. The Raiders converted the point-after-attempt to take a 15-0 lead with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter.
Mount Zion nearly returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown but fumbled the ball inside Riverdale’s territory to give the Raiders another offensive possession. The Raiders faltered, going three-and-out before punting.
After stopping the Bulldogs’ offense, Riverdale regained possession with 5:47 left in the second quarter. Three plays later, Harris found senior wide receiver Sateri Powell for the 37-yard touchdown reception. Cooper found Powell in the corner of the end zone to successfully complete the two-point conversion and give Riverdale a 23-0 lead with 4:32 remaining in the second quarter.
Mount Zion drove the ball deep into Raider territory on its next possession. Facing a fourth-and-eight play, the Bulldogs went for it and came up five yards short. Riverdale ran out the clock to close out the first half with a 23-point lead.
In the third quarter Riverdae and Mount Zion both went three-and-out on their opening possessions. On Riverdale’s second possession it caught some momentum as Harris and Cooper led the way down the field. The drive ended when Harris launched a pass and Powell made a circus catch in the end zone for the 20-yard touchdown reception.
Another successful two-point conversion gave the Raiders a commanding 31-0 lead with 6:17 left in the third quarter. Riverdale was not yet done with its onslaught.
Mount Zion was threatening once again when Riverdale sophomore defensive back Rashad Canty intercepted Buchanan’s pass and returned it to the Raiders’ 37-yard line. Three plays later, Riverdale was trying to convert on a third-and-eight play as Harris scrambled to evade the sack and launched a pass from the 33-yard line that found Powell for their third touchdown connection of the game. The Raiders missed the point-after-attempt but still held a daunting 37-0 lead with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs’ next possession lasted barely a minute and the Raiders regained possession after forcing a turnover on downs.
The quarter came to a close but the Raiders came out swiftly in the fourth, with Harris launching a 43-yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the evening. The point-after-attempt was successful to give Riverdale a 44-0 lead with 11:51 left in the final quarter.
The teams traded possessions until Buchanan found sophomore wide receiver Carlton McCrary for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Bulldogs went for two but were unsuccessful, leaving the score 44-6 as the game came to a close.
Harris was 9 of 13 for 226 yards, four touchdowns and one interception to lead Riverdale. Powell had four receptions for 100 yards, including three touchdowns. Cooper had 123 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown. Buchanan was 7/17 for 78 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions to lead the Bulldogs.