It was the 50th year of The Battle of The ‘Boro and Tomahawk Stadium had all the energy you would expect from a classic rivalry prior to kickoff. Oakland was coming off a loss to CPA that snapped a 36-game winning streak and Riverdale was coming off a big district win against Siegel. The teams were ready, the fans were ready, the students were ready, but more importantly Jeremiah Collins was ready. Collins made a statement with the opening kickoff of this rivalry by taking it back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Oakland didn’t let up as they forced a quick stop and scored after a near 70-yard drive that ended in a CJ Puckett rushing touchdown. They would stop Riverdale again and then Khalil James would rumble into the endzone from 53 yards out, making it 21-0 Oakland. This was becoming a blowout and Riverdale was going to need to respond and fast. They needed something, anything, to get a spark to get back in the game. Just when they needed it most, as they were punting back to The Patriots again, staring 28-0 in the face, the punt returner muffed the punt near the 30-yard line. An all-out war ensued on the grass for the ball, and Riverdale emerged with the football. They had enough time to make it a two-score game before the second quarter. In the biggest moments you need your leaders to step up and make plays. Riverdale’s leader did just that as Caleb Herring walked into the endzone untouched after a 21-yard pass from Quarterback Braden Graham. Oakland would block the kick and the score with two minutes left in the first quarter. Not to be outdone, Oakland Quarterback Kade Hewitt would find Khalil James deep down the middle of the field. James made an acrobatic catch turning his body back to the ball in mid-air and set his offense up at the two-yard line as the quarter expired.
On the first play of the second quarter, Eric Taylor plunged the ball into the endzone making it 28-6 Oakland. The next drive felt crucial for The Warriors. After a near five-minute drive, Riverdale still couldn’t solve this Patriot defense and had to punt near midfield. After pinning The Patriots inside their own 20, the Warrior defense would force a punt after a great open-field tackle by Caleb Herring. Riverdale would take over on their own 32-yard line. The offense had another shot to pull it within 14 before they got the ball to start the second half. They could not capitalize after falling behind the sticks and had to punt to Oakland who had time to put a drive together. After a long gain on a screen pass on third down and a couple of quick out routes, The Patriots had the ball on the 2-yard line with five seconds remaining in the half. They elected to go for the touchdown and Hewitt connected with Puckett to make it 35-6 Oakland. That would remain the score as the teams went to the locker room for halftime.
It was going to take a complete half in all three phases of the game for The Warriors to claw back into this game. They started out on the right track, working the ball into Patriot territory but were turned away on fourth down. Riverdale then got the ball back on a fourth-down stop of their own. Oakland would get the ball back and extend their lead to 42-6 as Tamari Hill darted around the left edge and into the endzone on a 30-yard touchdown run. That would remain our score as we went into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter would mainly consist of Riverdale still being unable to move the ball, while Oakland drained the clock. The score would not change, and the final score would be Oakland 42 Riverdale 6. This win clinched the 6A-4 for Oakland.
Riverdale did get a fourth-quarter interception that you can watch below.
Our MVP this week is Oakland Fullback, CJ Puckett. CJ had two touchdowns tonight from the Fullback position, one through the air and one on the ground. I asked CJ about the win and his performance in a bounce-back scenario for his team as well as clinching the district and what makes Oakland so consistent. This is what he had to say:
“It means a lot… we don’t lose a lot, so we came here with the mindset that it’s a win. I really just try to do what I need to do for us to win. That’s all that matters. I just had a good game today. Its really the coaches and players and all the hard work we put in.”