Turnovers doom McIntosh in 23-7 loss to Riverdale
by Christopher Dunn
The McIntosh Chiefs had their opportunities to score a big win in their region opener Thursday night, but turnovers were their undoing in a 23-7 loss to the Riverdale Raiders. After building an early lead, five turnovers, three of them coming in the third quarter, would be their undoing.
Zach Sanders made his return to the starting lineup at quarterback for the Chiefs after missing time with a shoulder injury and had the offense humming out of the gates. A 23-yard run by Bradley Ector and a completion to Nick Ostendorf both picked up first downs, but the series would bog down outside the red zone. The Chiefs settled for a 38-yard field goal attempt, and it missed just to the left.
The defense got them the ball back with little fuss, and Ector delivered the big blow. On the first snap of the next series, he took a handoff up the gut and bounced around the right end, running over and past the Raiders en route to a 68-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Ector plundered the Raider defense to the tune of 140 yards and the score on only 13 carries for the night.
McIntosh’s defense emphatically ended the next two drives as the pass rush keyed by Ben Bryant, Trey Williams, and Keaton Wimbish tormented the Raiders quarterback. They would set up the offense in excellent position, starting on the Raider 32, midway through the second as the miscues began. A red zone interception set Riverdale up on their own 2, but they would drive 98 yards for a score. It started with a 48-yard pass on the first play and was kept alive by a conversion on 4th and 6. Riverdale quarterback Joseph Cambridge evened up the score at 7-7 with an option keeper, racing 36 yards to the house.
Danile Blair returned the ensuing kick past midfield to set his team up well. Ector ran for 16 yards, and Kinamon caught a 5-yard pass to move the chains, but the drive stalled. Riverdale started on their own 38 with 55 seconds left in the half and made it count, hitting a bomb on the first play that would help get them in position for a 31-yard field goal and a 10-7 halftime lead.
The third quarter was when it came unraveled for the Chiefs. Riverdale returned the opening kick all the way to the Chief 35 and only missed a touchdown thanks to kicker Jacob Donaldson slowing down the return man. No matter, they went to the air and scored from 35 yards out to extend their lead.
McIntosh looked ready to answer back, picking up 14 yards on 3rd and 11 with a pass to Jake Lackey and converting another 3rd and long with a screen pass to Ector. Facing another 3rd down, a Raider defensive back stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception for a long touchdown. Zach Anderson would surge through the line to block the extra point, but Riverdale’s lead still grew to 23-7.
The Chiefs started their next drive at midfield an moved to nearly the red zone on a trio of receptions by Dane Kinamon. Kinamon would finish the night with seven catches for 45 yards. The momentum would die with a fumble to turn the ball over. DeAndre Wade got the Chiefs the ball back with a leaping interception on a long bomb, but an interception would hand the ball over again as the quarter ended with a whimper.
The defense stood tall in the fourth quarter, keeping the Raiders out of the end zone and giving their offense chances, but neither Sanders nor Kyle Riesselmann could get the Chiefs back to pay dirt. They would get closest on their last draft when Riesselmann stepped in under center and moved it deep into Raider territory. Zach Seymour picked up nine yards on the first play, a pass to Jack Dee converted a 4th and five, and a 26-yard pass to Kinamon moved the chains again, but they would stall and the drive would end with an incomplete pass in the end zone on 4th down, allowing Riverdale to run out the clock.
Whitewater fights hard in loss to high-scoring Griffin Bears
by Rob Grubbs
First-year head coach Bryan Holley and the 3-1 Whitewater Wildcats jumped into the deep end of their region schedule by taking on the region favorite and top ten ranked Griffin Bears at Wildcat Stadium Friday night. It was the first matchup of the two teams since Griffin beat Whitewater 23-22 to close out the 2011 season and end the Wildcats playoff run that year. Whitewater would not get the revenge they sought, but would hold their own in a 56-21 loss.
Griffin entered the game with a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Tylan Morton that had averaged 50 points a game over their first four contests and looked to continue that trend against a strong Whitewater defense that had been stingy throughout the non-region schedule.
After receiving the opening kickoff and a penalty, Whitewater started from its own 9 and moved downfield quickly, highlighted by a 70-yard pass from Stone Kasten to Jamal Jenkins. They capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kasten to Chase Smith on the next play for the 7-0 lead before fans could even settle in.
The quick scoring drive was followed by Griffin’s own 70-yard, 8-play drive to answer, but a missed extra point still left Whitewater with the 7-6 lead as the game began to take on the feel of a track meet.
After turning the ball over on downs on their next possession, the game was suddenly taken over by quarterback Morton. In a performance reminiscent of Gainesville’s Deshaun Watson on this same field in the 2012 state semifinal playoff game, Morton used his 6’4″ frame, mobility, arm strength, and stable of receivers to begin a surgical dissection of the Whitewater defense. Griffin scored on four of their next five possessions, and, with 2:30 left in the first half, things seemed to have quickly escalated into a nightmare for Whitewater at 35-7.
Moments like this require a team to search deep inside themselves, and, while some in the crowd were wondering what Whitewater’s worst defeat ever was, Coach Holley’s team responded with a 7-play drive scoring drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Montgomery to cut the lead to 35-14 with 21 seconds reaming in the first half.
After intermission, the Whitewater defense, led by linebackers Eric Ogle and Heath Kirkes, seemed to be rejuvenated, stopping the Bears offense on their first two second half possessions. Whitewater took possession on their 21 early in the second half, and, after a couple of negative plays, faced a 3rd and 21 from their own 2. Looking to give their punter some extra room, Montgomery took the handoff and plunged into the line of scrimmage for what looked to be a 2-yard gain, but somehow he emerged from the scrum and broke left to the sideline and raced for a 98-yard touchdown. Suddenly, a team that was down by four touchdowns was back in it, and the defense quickly got the ball back after a multitude of Griffin penalties.
Midway through the third quarter, Whitewater was now down by only two scores and had the possession near midfield. They had willed their way back into the game with hard nose running from Montgomery and a defense that was beginning find answers to the Griffin potent air assault. However, the offense failed to get a first down and faced a punting situation, where Griffin return man Malik Route went 82 yards for the touchdown that seemed to short-circuited the Wildcat rally with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
Griffin would score twice again in the fourth, including another electric 71-yard punt return by Route for the final score of 56-21.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the game got a bit chippy with some spirited hits and a couple of penalties. Coach Holley and Griffin’s head coach, Antonio Andrews, restored order to their respective teams when it seemed that the game officials had lost a bit of control.
Whitewater (3-2 overall, 0-1 in region) has now faced the top team in the region and can use this as a measuring stick for the remaining games ahead. For two quarters, the second and third, they fought toe-to-toe with the number six ranked team in the state. That should give them confidence as they proceed with the rest of their region schedule. That road starts next week when Whitewater travels to Tara Stadium to face the 1-4 Morrow Mustangs. A win there puts Whitewater right back into the thick of the regions standings for one of the coveted four spots to extend their season into the playoffs.
Whitewater was led by senior running back Montgomery, who had 12 carries for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the 98-yard score. Junior wide receiver Jenkins who had 3 catches for 73 yards. Quarterback Stone Kasten withstood an intense Bear pass rush all night to complete 10 passes for 142 yards and 1 touchdown.
For Griffin, Tylan Morton, who is second in the state in total passing yardage behind Houston County’s Jake Fromm, completed 21 of 32 passes for 399 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Griffin returns to action against Starr’s Mill Friday night at home in another key game for the top spot in region 3-AAAAA.