Chinedu Okonya returned an interception for a touchdown and Deon Jones also picked off a pass as Riverdale held Spalding to 57 yards of offense, just two first downs and none in the second half.
“We’ve got a great defense and the biggest thing is the past couple of weeks we haven’t been playing fast like we have been,” Riverdale football coach Olten Downs said.
“So we wanted to get back to basics and get as simple as possible just let our guys fly around and have fun—go ‘hunting’ like we call it on defense,” he said. “We gave up 30 points the past few weeks and that is not the way we play defense around here. We got back to Riverdale Raider defense.”
Troy Wyche and Asania Aderhold, who also passed for 216 yards, rushed for short touchdowns for the Raiders, who bounced back from last week’s 35-14 setback to Griffin and recorded their second shutout of the season.
Even though Riverdale improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the sub-region, the Raiders’ offense continued to struggle early, punting or turning the ball over on downs on their first five possessions.
“Our biggest problem right now is that we are starting way too slow,” Downs said. “Some of the same problems we had last week we experienced them again this week. We had ample opportunities in the red zone to score but we just didn’t convert.”
But just before halftime, the defense provided a spark when Okonya stepped in front of a pass by Monquez Sullivan and raced into the end zone for a 16-yard TD and a 7-0 edge with 2:48 left in the second quarter.
Then on the Raiders’ second possession of the second half, they essentially put the game out of reach with an eight-play, 83-yard scoring drive during which Aderhold completed a 32-yard pass to Rashad Canty and a 41-yard pass to Kamhad Magwood. Wyche capped the march with a 1-yard TD run for a 13-0 lead with 2:16 to go.
For more insurance, Aderhold reached the end zone from three yards out and passed to Canty for the two-point conversion early in the final quarter.
“Moving to 5-2 keeps us tied for second place in the region and also guarantees a winning season—something Riverdale hasn’t had in six years,” Downs said. “That is a big step for us.”
On Friday, the Raiders host Upson-Lee at Southern Crescent Stadium.