Improved Riverside still no match for Hillside
Riverside became the latest wannabe PAC-6 4-A David to fall to Hillside’s Goliath, 35-21, at its own Linny Wrenn Stadium Friday night.
Riverside (5-3, 1-1 PAC-6) has been blown away by the seeemingly perennial PAC-6 champion Hornets (5-2, 2-0 PAC-6) for years, but had pieced together a winning record this season and with back Joel Evans rushing for 1,361 yards in the first seven games, appeared to have an offensive weapon with which to keep Hillside on its heels.
Problem was, the Pirates don’t have a passing game to match Evans’ running and Hillside knew it. The Hornets flexed their considerable defensive muscle and for the most part prevented the breakaway plays that might have gotten them in trouble.
When it was over, Evans had 102 yards on 22 carries, but was actually outgained by wingback Jonathan Rhew’s 125 yards on seven carries. Add in Darryl Smith’s 58 yards on eight carries and Riverside put up 326 yards on the ground.
But quarterback Dianté Strothers managed just 64 yards through the air on 11 attempts, albeit with a pair of touchdown tosses, and that just wasn’t enough to beat Hillside.
“We knew what Joel could do and did what we had to do to contain him,” Hillside coach Antonio King said of the 5-4, 185-pound Evans. “We had to stop him and make someone else beat us.”
King didn’t have to worry about Evans on the other side of the ball and that’s where Hillside excelled. Senior Donté Thomas-Williams, a 6-2, 215-pound four-star college prospect, carried 19 times for 209 yards and touchdowns of 37, 38 and 4 yards. Quarterback Nas Forté-Ferguson threw for scores of 22 yards to Trevion Thompson and 73 yards to Ray Green and that did it for Hillside.
When the running game had landed Hillside a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, King started calling passing plays and the offense began stalling as Riverside made it 14-7 at the half.
King admitted he wants to develop the passing game as a potent complement to the Hornets’ deadly run game, and said he saw holes in Riverside’s defense that were too inviting to pass up.
“They started leaving themselves vulnerable to the deep ball,” King said. “And we wanted to give them a new look (on offense).”
The passing game failed to convert on a pair of fourth-and-long plays in Riverside territory in the second quarter, setting up what would be a 79-yard drive for the Pirates’ first score.
Forté-Ferguson failed to complete either of two pass attempts on Hillside’s first possession of the second half, a three-and-out.
But Hillside’s defense came up big moments later, Lason Midgette nailing Strothers for an 11-yard sack on third down to the Riverside 10, Hillside got it back at the Riverside 30 after a short punt.
King went back to the run game and three carries later Thomas-Williams took a personal 30-yard drive, taking it in from the 4 for a 21-7 lead that would never seriously be challenged.
“We got down 14 and we fought our way back,” Riverside coach David Hackney said. “But we made too many crucial mistakes ... and you can’t do that against a good football team. And Hillside is a very good football team.
“We fought hard, but we don’t like moral victories. We’re 5-3, which is a lot better than we were last year, but 6-2 would (have been) a whole lot better.”
HILLSIDE 35, RIVERSIDE 21
Hillside |14 |0 |7 |14 — 35
Riverside |0 |7 |7 |7 — 21
H—Trevion Thompson 22 pass from Nas Forté-Ferguson (Ian Burris Jr. kick), 10:24
H—Donté Thomas-Williams 38 run (Burris kick), 4:21
R—Darryl Smith 1 pass from Dianté Strothers (Micah Goodwin kick), 2:56
H—Thomas-Williams 4 run (Burris kick), 5:45
R—Jonathan Rhew 4 run (Goodwin kick), 0:00
H—Thomas-Williams 37 run (Burris kick), 9:39
H—Ray Green 73 pass from Forté-Ferguson (Burris kick), 6:28
R—Dean Yarborough 11 pass from Strothers (Goodwin kick), 2:47
RUSHING — Hillside, Donté Thomas-Williams 19-209, Raquaz Brannon 6-57. Riverside, Joel Evans 22-202, Dianté Strothers 12-15, Jonathan Rhew 7-125, Cameron Roane 3-10, Darryl Smith 8-58, Stephan Jacobs 1-2, Team 1-4.
PASSING — Hillside, Nas Forté-Ferguson 6-14-0 157. Riverside, Dianté Strothers 6-11-0 64.
RECEIVING — Hillside, Trevion Thompson 3-46, Ray Green 1-73, Miles Kelly 1-25, Donté Thomas-Williams 1-15. Riverside, Dean Yarborough 3-43, Stephan Jacobs 1-(minus 8), Darryl Smith 1-1, Cameron Roane 1-28.
Missed FGs — Hillside, none. Riverside, Micah Goodwin 37, 46.
Records — Hillside 5-2, 2-0 PAC-6 4-A; Riverside 5-3, 1-1 PAC-6 4-A.