No. 1 Oakland advanced to its seventh consecutive state semifinal on Friday night with a 39-14 home victory over Riverdale.
The Patriots will host Maryville, a 35-28 winner over Dobyns Bennett, this Friday, Nov. 27. The Rebels eliminated Oakland in the semifinals last season.
Riverdale did its best to contain a potent Patriots offense, but a junior trio of weapons did enough to wear down the Warriors' efforts.
Jordan James rushed for 98 yards and added 93 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Patterson contributed 50 yards on the ground, and Isaiah Horton finished with a one-handed touchdown grab that capped off a 20-point second quarter.
“I do not think much was different (from their 30-7 regular season matchup with Riverdale). We always prepare well with our game plan, and the coaches have us mentally ready for every game,” Horton said.
James rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the second-quarter onslaught. Sandwiched between the scores, a Warrior fumble at midfield was forced by Xavier Patterson.
“(Riverdale) did a good job of disrupting us early, but we responded with a big second quarter by putting the ball in our playmakers’ hands,” Oakland head coach Kevin Creasy said.
Defense was, as expected, a vital piece to Oakland’s success. Riverdale was forced to nickel-and-dime for a pair of touchdowns in the second half that burned precious clock.
Marcus Lloyd scored on both touchdowns from inside the 15-yard line. The scores came on consecutive drives, but little ground was gained as Oakland answered with a pair of second-half touchdowns.
“We struggled with maintaining our blocks and getting the running game going,” Riverdale coach Will Kriesky said. “Our offense did not help our defense with short drives and setting (Oakland) up with great field position.”
Warrior quarterback Jameson Holcomb, who missed the first game against the Patriots with an injury, completed 14-of-24 pass attempts for 175 yards and a touchdown.
“Our defense did a good job containing (Holcomb),” Creasy siad. “He is such a hard competitor, and the future is bright for him. He makes plays for them when they need him, but our guys responded well for playing against him for the first time.”
Holcomb eclipsed 1,000 passing yards in his first season under center and led Riverdale to its 10-win season in over a decade.
“This team has been through so much in the offseason and week-to-week something changes,” Kriesky said. “This team never wavered. They always responded and I could not be prouder of their effort.”
Oakland quarterback Ian Schlacter broke the backs of Riverdale’s defense with a fourth-quarter, 90-yard completion to James on third and 26. Schlacter threw for 148 yards on six completions and three touchdowns.
“I thought we came out focused on offense and played a very prepared football game,” Schlacter said. “I will play the biggest game of my career next week (against Maryville), so we have to bring a greater intensity and work ethic for that game.”
Penalties became a problem for both teams. Riverdale was flagged for 139 penalty yards, while Oakland totaled 117.
“We need to clean up the penalties and get them out of the way," Horton said. "It makes it tough for the offense to get going and can set us back from a hot start.”