It didn’t take a quick Riverdale touchdown or a slow start offensively for Matt Turner to know his team was doomed. He knew it when the Pioneers walked off the bus.
Riverdale ran roughshod over the Pioneers Friday night, dominating 42-0 to punch its ticket to the playoffs. It was the worst loss of the season for Warren County, which was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
“Pitiful (effort). We got off the bus scared,” said Turner. “That Riverdale aura - the name and tradition – had our guys playing on their heels.”
Warren County (4-5) started going in reverse from the opening snap, which dribbled back to quarterback CJ Taylor and resulted in an 11-yard loss. The Pioneers didn’t get back into positive yards until four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Taylor was able to break free on a 29-yard run.
By then, Riverdale had already built a 42-point lead and enacted the mercy rule.
In all, Warren County finished with just eight yards offensively and put the ball on the ground three times, though it only lost one. The Pioneers had just three first downs – all coming on Riverdale penalties.
Heavy rain may have played a part in the Pioneer struggles, but it didn’t seem to cause any issues for the Warriors. Riverdale mitigated any chance of mishaps by pounding away on the ground.
Riverdale’s first drive following a Pioneer three-and-out was a highlight reel for senior Drew Smith. The powerful back carried the ball seven of the first eight plays, gaining 51 yards. The last 14 came on a touchdown run where Smith went untouched to the endzone with 6:09 to go in the first quarter.
The Warriors partially blocked a Xander Lee punt following another three-and-out, giving the home team the ball at the Pioneer 28. Five runs later, Marcus Lloyd scampered in from eight yards out to make it 14-0.
Riverdale made it 21-0 when CJ Johnson Jr. scored from 12 yards out with :12 remaining in the first quarter. The TD score came one play after the Pioneers fumbled an exchange.
Smith pushed the advantage to 28 late in the second quarter, scoring on fourth-and-four from the Pioneer 26 when he was able to make two players miss at the line of scrimmage and tight-rope the sideline to the pylon.
Johnson Jr. enacted the mercy rule with a 17-yard touchdown and Jacorian Currie made it 42-0 with a two-yard run with :11 left in the third quarter. Currie’s score followed a botched punt attempt where Lee was unable to field a bouncing snap and was buried by four Riverdale defenders near his own goal line.
Defensively, the Pioneers had a late highlight when senior Eli Buchanan stripped a Riverdale runner and Malachi Rippy was able to dive on the loose ball.
Warren County moved into Riverdale territory only once, aided when the Warriors were called for pass interference and a personal foul after the whistle.
The road gets tougher this Friday when the Pioneers travel to face No. 1 Oakland in the season finale. Action against the 9-0 Patriots is set to start at 7 p.m.