Friday night marked the 54th installment of ‘The Battle of the Boro’ between Riverdale and Oakland, and it was the Patriots who emerged victorious with a 24-7 win at home over the Warriors, extending their current winning streak to 23.
“We have had some important games this year already,” Oakland senior Isaiah Horton said. “But we had to explain to the younger guys how important. We clinch playoffs with the win. We clinch home field if we win. It’s the Battle of the Boro, and we (seniors) haven’t lost on this field in four years.”
Although Riverdale leads the all-time series 32-22, this marks the 11th straight win for Oakland in the series, dating back to the 2012 season before coach Kevin Creasy took over. It is the longest streak in the history of the rivalry.
“We treat the Riverdale game the same every time,” Creasy said. “It’s a very valuable game. It’s a region game and a rivalry game. It’s not so much winning it on Friday as it is winning it on Monday. Our guys did a good job coming to work all week, and we worked on things we definitely needed to improve, and we reap the benefits tonight.”
The game certainly met the expectations of a defensive slugfest, despite a slightly misleading final score, which was the score at halftime. Neither defense allowed a point or 100 yards in the second half.
Oakland’s points were largely a matter of timing and circumstance created by Riverdale miscues and its defense. After Riverdale took a 7-3 lead with four minutes left in the first half, the Patriots caught fire just long enough to score three touchdowns and seal the win.
In this time frame the Patriots had three possessions start in Riverdale territory. Also in the first half, Oakland ran 38 plays to Riverdale’s 17 and led time of possession by six full minutes, leaving the Warrior defense in an uphill battle.
But fight they did, stopping Oakland in the red zone four times, and holding the Patriot’s two-headed monster of Jordan James and Antonio Patterson to just over 100 yards and one touchdown (James).
“The defense stuck together and kept fighting,” Riverdale coach Will Kriesky said. “They kept working and didn’t give up. So I’m proud of them. They were put in bad situations but stuck together and kept going.”
With the Patriots also firing on all defensive cylinders and not only wreaking havoc on Riverdale’s offense, they were keeping Riverdale’s defense on the field, creating a window of opportunity for their offense to score before halftime when the Warriors defense would recharge its batteries.
It was Horton and former Riverdale quarterback Kade Hewitt who took the cue, starting with a 64-yard touchdown that reclaimed the lead for the Pats. Horton finished with six receptions but each was perfectly timed to extend a drive or regain momentum.
“When my number’s called I want to make plays and do what I have to do,” Horton said. “We’re a run first offense. We have a dominant running back. All of our running backs are incredible. But once my number is called, I’m going to make it happen.
Also, with the Warriors focused on James and Patterson, fullback CJ Puckett stepped in and delivered the final blow just before the half with a 28-yard touchdown, the last of the game for either team.
Riverdale showed signs of life offensively in the second half, but also took a step in the wrong direction mentally by committing 11 second-half penalties, all of which seemed to come after consecutive first downs or some other momentum killing time.
“We have to be able to sustain drives,” Kriesky said. “We killed ourselves offensively. Move the ball, move the ball, get penalties. You have to be able to finish drives to able to compete against this team. They are a top 10 team.”
The teams both have all but clinched playoffs and are more than likely right back on a crash course with each other in the quarterfinals.