Top-ranked Oakland was challenged early, but the Patriots prevailed in the second half with a 30-7 road victory against Riverdale Friday night.
Oakland stretched its "Battle of the 'Boro" winning streak to nine games with the victory and improved to 8-0 overall land 5-0 in Region 3 play. Riverdale saw its six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-2 and 4-1.
“We knew this game would be tough because all rivalry games are and Riverdale has a heck of a football team,” Patriots coach Kevin Creasy said. “We are liable to see them again down the road, but I like how our guys battled and played for four quarters.”
The Patriots wasted no time scoring a defensive safety after a Riverdale punt snap went through the back of the end zone. Oakland got within a yard of making it a two-score game until a fumble on the goal line recovered by the Warriors eased the pressure.
However, the fumble delayed the inevitable as Oakland’s Jordan James scored a rushing touchdown on the next drive for a 9-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Riverdale answered with an 80-yard, six-minute drive to cut into the deficit on Brandon Connard’s lone rushing touchdown. Connard was the biggest threat rushing as he gained 75 yards on 13 carries and a score.
“We made plays but we also had plays that hurt us and we folded,” Riverdale coach Will Kriesky said. “So many uncharacteristic penalties and that is on me to fix.”
A big first-half play that killed Riverdale's momentum was Oakland’s last second 35-yard Hail Mary to wide receiver Isaiah Horton to take a 16-7 halftime lead.
“We knew we could get good field position off their punt so we used a timeout out so we could get off some plays to shorten the field,” Creasy said of the 17-second drive. “We used another (timeout) to discuss the play and we had confidence in our quarterback (Ian Schlacter), and Horton made a heck of a catch.”
The Patriots carried the momentum from the late score to execute a flawless opening drive of the second half. Athlete Vic Stephenson broke off a 30-yard touchdown to put Oakland up 23-7 at 7:17 of the third.
Oakland’s defense made the necessary adjustment in the second half to stymie Riverdale for 90 second-half yards and just three first downs.
“Our perimeter players did a much better job of getting off their blocks in the second half and providing outside pressure,” Creasy said of the second-half defense.
James capped his night with a 17-yard rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. The junior tailback rushed for 146 yards on 15 carries and pair of scores.
“I took what the defense gave me and my O-line made the holes big enough for me to run through,” James, a Brentwood Academy transfer, said. “I have had the time to learn the offense and we are finding our rhythm.”