MOUNT BLANCHARD — The Riverdale one-two punch of Josh Bushong and Seth Knoll in the backfield proved deadly against the Upper Scioto Valley Rams’ defense Friday night as the Falcons came away with the 49-8 non-conference win.
But before the duo could even take the field, a huge swing in momentum almost went the Rams way.
On the opening kickoff, USV receiver Shane Rofe returned the ball for the touchdown. But much to Riverdale coach Jeremy Kloepfer’s relief, the score was called back on a holding penalty.
“To see that kickoff go for six, it just rips your heart out. Fortunately for us, there was a penalty and it got called back,” Kloepfer said.
After the penalty, the momentum seemed to shift to Riverdale (1-1) as the Falcons’ Tré Headington knocked the ball loose from quarterback Cole Crawford. The ball was returned to deep in USV territory. where Bushong later took in the 2-yard score to give his team the early 7-0 lead.
“The defense went out and got the stop, then got the turnover. From there on, the boys just kept growing more positive,” Kloepfer said.
The mojo seemed to keep up with Riverdale as Headington again got the ball going the other way, this time on a blocked punt that was also returned to deep into the Rams’ end of the field.
Adam Fox added to the Falcons lead on the ensuing drive, taking the ball in from 4 yards out for the score.
“We always work on our kickoffs and our punts because those are two plays in any game that can beat you,” Kloepfer said. “Tonight, we were able to jump out front and that was good for us. It kept us positive and a lot of good things happened from there.”
Before the end of the first quarter, Crawford and the Rams managed to work their way to the Riverdale 23-yard-line where Crawford broke through, going all the way for the Rams’ only score of the night. Jared Sheldon caught the two-point conversion pass to pull USV (0-2) within six points.
Crawford totaled 18 completions on 26 passing attempts for 174 yards and one interception. On the ground, he was held to 31 yards on 10 carries.
The second quarter all belonged to Riverdale.
On their first drive of the quarter, Bushong again capped off a drive with a 12-yard run for his second score of the night for a 20-8 Riverdale lead.
On the following USV drive, the Rams converted a fourth-and-long around midfield, and to add to it, a roughing the passer penalty was tacked on. But unfortunately for the Rams, the drive stalled, allowing the Falcons to take over.
With 3:18 remaining in the half, Knoll broke a 34-yard run for the score. To make up for the missed extra point, quarterback Dillon Farrow completed a pass to Grant Loveridge for the two-point conversion.
“I was really impressed with the way they ran the ball. We knew that’s what they were going to do, but we just didn’t do a good job of stopping the run,” USV coach Josh Spencer said. “I give all the credit to (Riverdale); they did a nice job. They controlled the line of scrimmage.
“(Riverdale) just took it to us and we weren’t able to respond,” Spencer added.
Breaking away from the run, Farrow caught the defense off guard as he completed a 47-yard heave to James Scott, who then took it in for the score and a 35-8 lead just before the half.
“We just didn’t come out and play with a lot of passion, and that’s disappointing,” Spencer said. “But again, I give the credit to Riverdale; they’re well-coached and they did a nice job controlling the line of scrimmage and doing what they wanted to do.”
In an attempt to regain some momentum, Crawford threw up a hail Mary as the seconds ticked off the scoreboard. A heavily-covered Sheldon got his hands on the ball while in mid-air, and may have even possesed it for a split second, but the ball dropped to the turf as halftime fell upon the teams.
The second half saw more of the same as Bushong picked up his third touchdown on a 1-yard run with 9:31 left in the third quarter.
Bushong finished the night with 145 yards on 26 carries and had an interception early in the third. Knoll racked up 140 yards on 17 carries. Fox finished with 40 yards on just three rushes.
“That’s a great thing that we can do, to throw in the bigger guy with Bushong and let him pound it up in there. Then you throw in the little scatback with Knoll,” Kloepfer said. “They’re both different styles of running backs and that’s a nice thing to have, that we can alternate them like that. They both did a great job.”
Kloepfer also gave credit to his team’s offensive line for moving the line of scrimmage for the team.
“The front line was changing the line of scrimmage, and that’s a good thing, no matter who you put in at running back. If the line of scrimmage is getting changed in your favor, good things are going to happen,” Kloepfer said.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Farrow kept the read option and took the ball into the end zone from three yards out to give Riverdale its final score of the night.
The Falcon defense continued to keep USV out of the end zone, later forcing two fumbles following completions.
“USV has a lot of nice athletes and they’re a good team. I’d never have guessed we’d hold them to eight points because they’ve got a lot of weapons and people to go to,” Kloepfer said. “I’m very proud of our defense that we held them to only eight points.”
Riverdale hosts Wynford in a non-league game at 7 p.m. Friday.
By TY THAXTON
DC-U news bureau
Score by quarters
USV 8 0 0 0 — 8
Riverdale 14 21 7 7 — 49
First downs 19 8
Rushing yds 354 57
Passing yds 47 174
Passes 1-2 18-26
Passes int. by 1 0
Fumbles/lost 0-0 3-3
Punts 2-42.5 3-31.3
Penalties 7-35 2-15