Photo by Jerry Jackson
Drew running back Farrean Toney (No. 4) looks for some rushing yards as Riverdale’s Isa Muhammad tries to make the tackle in Friday’s game at Southern Crescent Stadium.
RIVERDALE — An opportunistic defense, some timely special teams play and just enough offense proved to again be a winning formula for the Riverdale Raiders.
The Raiders struggled at times offensively, but made enough plays to outlast Drew, 21-14, in Friday night’s non-region affair at Southern Crescent Stadium.
Senior Ti’Keem Cooper scored two touchdowns, including an 88-yard kickoff return to start the game, while linebacker Tony Wyche added another on a fumble return as the hosts improved to 2-0 going into next week’s date at Grady.
“That’s what it sometimes takes to win football games,” Riverdale coach Olten Downs said. “It doesn’t have to always be pretty. It’s about bending and not breaking.”
The Titans, who fell to 0-1 after dropping their season opener, gave Downs a scare of sorts after Marquis Terry’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown to brought his team to within 21-14 with 3:20 left and added an interception of a Greg Taylor pass moments later.
The game’s outcome wasn’t assured until senior cornerback Jamaria Redding picked off a Jay Murray pass at the Raiders 46-yard line with 46 seconds left.
The timely play in many ways summed up Riverdale’s first two games as a whole.
Cooper set the tone early by taking the opening kickoff along the far right sideline before darting back into the middle of the field and outracing the Titans to the endzone.
Wyche added to his team’s scoring total in the second period, ripping the ball from Terry’s hands and racing 72 yards the opposite way for a touchdown that extended Riverdale’s lead to 14-0 with 3:15 left in the first half.
The Raiders might have added to their first-half scoring total, but costly mistakes denied them any points on two other drives deep into Titans territory. Kicker Rashad Canty misfired on a 22-yard field goal to end one potential scoring opportunity, while a Kamhad Magwood fumble at the Drew 11 early in the second period thwarted another.
Riverdale managed just 89 yards of total offense in the first half, 30 of which came on a Taylor pass-and-catch to Canty midway through the opening period.
The Raiders defense picked up the slack early on, forcing two turnovers while also registering three sacks of Taylor.
Riverdale finished with just 185 yards of total offense, well shy of the 247 Drew mustered for the game. It marked the second consecutive week the Raiders were less productive offensively, but won the game.
“We did enough to get over the hump,” Taylor said after completing eight of 17 passes for 110 yards to lead the winners, “the defense did the rest and we got the win.”
Drew pulled to within 14-7 when tailback Tracy Gaston plunged into the endzone from one yard out with 4:08 left before the intermission.
Canty finished with six catches for 84 yards for Riverdale.
— John Hollis, Special to the Daily