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Riverdale holds on for 29-26 win over Drew

Riverdale quarterback Greg Taylor looks to pass the ball during the first half in the Raiders’ 29-26 win over Drew on Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Riverdale quarterback Greg Taylor looks to pass the ball during the first half in the Raiders’ 29-26 win over Drew on Friday at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Drew defensive tackle Latyreon Temple, left, gets a sledge hammer from coach Jarrett Laws before the Titans take to the field in Friday’s game against rival Riverdale at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

RIVERDALE - The annual Riverdale and Drew clash lived up to it pregame hype.

Riverdale appeared as if it would have the game in control for the first three quarters before Drew’s second-half comeback attempted failed on Friday.

Riverdale held on for a thrilling 29-26 win in a non-region contest at Southern Crescent Stadium. Drew led briefly in the first quarter, but the majority of the opening half belonged to the Raiders.

A pair of second quarter touchdowns appeared to give the Raiders momentum as they lead 20-6 going into the intermission.

However, in the third quarter, the Titans came out with a since of urgency in their season opener. Drew would pull to 20-13 early in the third quarter after Brandon Pearson found wide receiver Damarco Smith wide open on an 82-yard touchdown pass with 10:29 remaining in the quarter.

The Titans (0-1) looked as if they would have a chance to tie the game after defensive back Mark Hawkins intercepted a pass from Riverdale quarterback Greg Taylor with 8:15 remaining in the quarter. Drew was unable to move the ball and had to punt.

Riverdale appeared as if it would score to increase its lead, but Drew defense held on a fourth-and-goal play from the Titans’ 5. But the Riverdale’s defense would help the team capitalize. Drew was stopped on three plays and forced to punt.

The Raiders’ special team would block the punt out the back of the end zone for a safety. Riverdale would extend its lead to 22-13 with 1:01 remaining.

Much of the quarter was defensive struggle until Riverdale’s special teams came up with a big play.

After getting the ball following the safety, Riverdale would put together a scoring drive. Jordan Metts would cap a drive with a 10-yard almost untouched into the end zone. It would be the senior’s second score of the game.

He scored on an 11-yard late in the second quarter as Riverdale would take a 20-6 lead with 2:01 remaining in the first half.

The game was special for Metts, who transferred from Drew last spring after sharing playing time with three other players last season.

At Riverdale, he is the featured back, and had a special game against his former teammates with two touchdown.

Metts second score seem to fire up his former teammates as they would string together another scoring drive.

On the ensuing possession following Metts touchdown, Drew running back Quarderman Sloan would cap a 95-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The Titans would trail 29-19, but would add another score late in the fourth quarter.

With the win, Riverdale improved to 2-0 in coach Terry Herrod’s first season at the helm. Last week, Riverdale defeated Region 4-AAAA foe North Clayton in the first game of the season.

The Raiders will take on Grady next week in another non-region game. Drew will take on Rockdale County next week on the road.

Drew entered the season with its fifth string running back after Metts transferred and three other running backs got hurt over the summer and in preseason practice. Projected starter Marquis Terry is expected back in another week while Tracy Gaston and Lester Knauls could be out for the season.