Pirates topple Tigers in OT
Their powder wet and seemingly destined to walk the plank, Riverside’s Pirates resorted to hand-to-hand combat in a 17-14 overtime comeback win at Chapel Hill Friday night.
The Pirates overcame five lost fumbles and a 14-7 fourth-quarter Chapel Hill lead, blocked a potential game-winning 22-yard field goal at regulation’s end and held fast on third-and-inches and fourth-and-inches at the goal line in overtime to raise the Jolly Roger in victory.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Riverside coach David Hackney said of the season-opening triumph. “We made a ton of mistakes — a ton of mistakes, but we played with a whole lot of hear and our defensive came through. It was a gut-check win.”
“Discipline,” answered dejected Chapel Hill coach Issac Marsh when asked to comment on the heartbreaking loss. “(My) players know what I’m talking about.”
Marsh made it clear that the wrong player was stopped on fourth-and-inches by sophomore defensive lineman Marcus Willoughby of Riverside on the game’s final play.
He said the final play was meant to go to senior tailback Jeremy Peck (114 yards on 31 carries). Senior quarterback Grant DeSelm kept it himself and was wrapped up by Willoughby.
On the previous third-and-inches play, Peck was hit behind the line by Erick Hunt and buried for no gain by Hunt’s teammates.
But the game probably shouldn’t have come down to those last two plays.
Chapel Hill took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a 17-yard TD run by Lonnie Baldwin and Riverside tied it in the final minute of the period on a 15-yard run by Joel Evans (28 carries, 212 yards).
The score was set up by Dorian Burton’s recovery of a Peck fumble one play earlier.
The teams remained deadlocked through the second and third periods, picking up some yards, but never seriously threatening.
Chapel Hill finally broke through in the fourth quarter. The Tigers’ Noah Layden recovered a fumble by Riverside quarterback Diante Strothers at the Chapel Hill 36 and DeSelm capped a five-play drive with a four-yard TD pass to Aaron Hirsch with 10:30 to play.
A six-yard DeSelm punt from his own 30 with 6:06 left put Riverside in business.
Strothers saved the drive by recovering an Evans fumble at the Chapel Hill 22 and hit a 17-yard pass to James Vample to set up Evans’ game-tying four-yard score at the 4:14 mark.
Riverside’s defense flexed its muscle, forcing a punt, but Strothers lost a fumble on the next play, recovered by Duncan Neal at the Riverside 45. Again Riverside forced Chapel Hill to punt.
With 52 seconds left, DeSelm’s punt eluded Pirate return man Deon Yarborough at the 13, but he somehow managed to fall on it.
But Riverside remained in a generous mood. Jonathan Rhew couldn’t get the handle on a pitch from Strothers at the 23 and Tiger Coby Fisher recovered at the Riverside 20 with 28.6 seconds left.
Three Peck carries to the 5 set up a 22-yard field goal try by Connor Albrecht that was blocked to force overtime.
“No idea who blocked it,” Hackney said, smiling.
In the OT, each team started at the 10, first and goal. Riverside was up first when Chapel Hill won the toss and deferred.
The Pirates moved steadily backward and Micah Goodwin, who’d been booming kicks all night, finally hit a bad one. Somehow the shaky, flat-planed try from 36 yards squeaked across the crossbar for a 17-14 lead.
Then it was Chapel Hill’s turn. And Riverside’s defense had the answers.
“We haven’t been relevant since 2006,” Hackney said. “We’ve changed everything we did. I couldn’t be prouder.”
NOTES — The win was Riverside’s first since 2005 at Chapel Hill’s Culton-Peerman Stadium and Hackney — a Riverside assistant at the time — remembered it well. The win also matched Riverside’s season total (1-9) from last season. ... Hackney barely found words to describe the performance of Evans, a 5-foot-4, 190-pound senior who transferred from Southern last season. “Special. Special,” Hackney said.
Riverside 17, Chapel Hill 14 (OT)
Riverside |7 |0 |0 |7 |3 — 17
Chapel Hill |7 |0 |0 |7 |0 — 14
Chapel Hill — Lonnie Baldwin 17 run (Connor Albrecht kick), 6:17
Riverside — Joel Evans, 15 run (Micah Goodwin kick), 0:52
Chapel Hill — Aaron Hirsch 4 pass from Grant DeSelm (Albrecht kick), 10:30
Riverside — Evans 3 run (Goodwin kick), 4:14
Riverside — Goodwin FG 36
PASSING — Riverside, Diante Strothers 4-7-55-0. Chapel Hill, Grant DeSelm 8-13-60-0.
RUSHING — Riverside, Joel Evans 28-212, Jonathan Rhew 6-0, Strothers 15-14, James Vample 1-1. Chapel Hill, Jeremy Peck 31-114, DeSelm 2-(-4), Lonnie Baldwin 6-24.
RECEIVING — Riverside, Vample 3-42, Deon Yarborough 1-13. Chapel Hill, Aaron Hirsch 4-18, Brandon Wendel 3-22, Andrew Gillespie 1-20.
Records — Riverside 1-0, 0-0 PAC-6 4-A. Chapel Hill 0-1, 0-0 Big Eight 3-A.