Photo by Dennis Thomas
Riverdale’s Troy Wyche wraps up Dutchtown quarterback Donovahn Jones for one of the senior linebacker’s nine tackles Friday night.
HAMPTON — Olten Downs insists that Riverdale’s 38-0 loss to Dutchtown Friday night is not as bad as it seems.
In fact, the second-year coach said it could end up being one of the best things that could have happened to his eighth-ranked team.
“It was good for us to experience this tonight,” Downs said. “This was a true learning test for us. I know we went up and played at Grady last week, but this was really our first true road test tonight. It was a just a different atmosphere. Riverdale is getting better but these true road-game tests are what we need.”
Missouri commit Donovahn Jones rushed for 81 yards, including a 55-yard score on a fake punt and the Bulldogs held Riverdale to under 150 yards of total offense, giving Riverdale a taste of its own medicine. The Bulldogs handed Riverdale its first shutout loss since North Clayton defeated the Raiders 7-0 last year in Downs’ first game as head coach.
For Dutchtown coach Jason Galt, it was a much better result against a ranked team on the Bulldogs’ home field.
Dutchtown’s last game against a top 10 opponent was its 42-16 loss to third-ranked Griffin in the Aug. 31 season opener. And Galt said his Bulldogs showed what they learned from that game in this one.
“Everybody says that you make your most improvement between the first and second games,” Galt said. “In that Griffin game, what a lot of people didn’t see is, Griffin is a good team, but it was more us than them.
“Our mistakes hurt us. Tonight, we learned from that game, we’re playing defense again, solid special teams and ball control. That’s kind of the formula since I’ve been here and you’ll win a lot of ballgames that way.”
When No. 8 Riverdale looks back on its game at Dutchtown, what may jump out at the Raiders more than the plays they made are the ones they didn’t.
Crushing to the Raiders was their inability to convert on short third- and fourth-down plays. The Raiders failed to convert on three third-and-short opportunities in the first half, opting to pass each time from the shotgun formation.
Despite the offensive struggles, the Raiders’ salty defense gave Riverdale hope early.
After allowing Dutchtown to take its opening drive to the Riverdale 3-yard line, Riverdale’s defense stiffened with three big stops near the goal line.
The teams would spar to a scoreless tie at the end of the first quarter, and when Riverdale took over on its 38 after a Dutchtown punt, the Raiders failed to capitalize on the good field position. On fourth-and-short, the Raiders opted to throw out of the shotgun formation and failed, giving Dutchtown a golden scoring opportunity.
Four plays later, the Bulldogs capitalized when Trayvon Gates took the handoff on a fullback trap and rumbled 34 yards for the score to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 6:32 left in the first half.
After the next Riverdale drive stalled, Dutchtown also seemed stopped as it approached a fourth-and-16 on its own 45. That’s when Jones put the Bulldogs up 14-0 by taking the snap on a fake punt, making two nifty moves in the middle of the field, veering to the sideline and outrunning the defense for the 55-yard touchdown.
Ryan Kansinger tacked on a 25-yard field goal to give Dutchtown a 17-0 advantage.
Dutchtown promptly put points on the board to start the second half. After recovering an onside kick, Will Smith capped a six-play, 39-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, extending the Dutchtown lead to 24-0 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.
Jones showed off his arm when he hit Rodel Shorter on a 52-yard scoring strike that extended Dutchtown’s lead to 31-0. Stephen Mack capped the scoring on a 40-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery.
In addition to his rushing yardage, Jones finished 3-of-6 passing with 71 yards.
The Bulldogs raised their record to 3-1 and have given up an average of just 5.1 points a game in the last three games. They will have a short week of preparation before traveling to Spalding on Thursday.
Riverdale’s first stint as a ranked team will be a short one. The Raiders (3-1) will look to shake off this disappointment at home against Eagle’s Landing (0-4) next Friday.
Meanwhile, despite the setback, Downs remains encouraged.
“I’ve always believed that your team learns more from its losses than its wins,” Downs said. “Riverdale is getting better, but you can’t give a good team like Dutchtown an advantage like we did and expect to win.”