DONALDSONVILLE – A season-long problem for Riverside Academy reared it’s ugly head from the start of the Rebel’s opening round Division IV playoff game at Ascension Catholic on Saturday afternoon.
After Jai Williams scored on a touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead, the Rebels fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the ball right back to Ascension Catholic.
A little more than two minutes later, it was 14-0 following a 1-yard touchdown run by Eric Simon, and so it went for the Rebels in their 55-20 loss that eliminated No. 14 seed Riverside (3-8) from the playoffs.
The mistake after Ascension Catholic’s initial allowed the third-seeded Bulldogs (10-0) to gain some early distance, which is something that has plague the Rebels all season.
“We are just too young, immature and a little too soft to be able to beat a really good physical teams like that. I do think we are a very talented football team. The bottom line, just too young, too soft to beat teams like that,” said Riverside coach Kevin Dizer.
“We were able to get out in front and it’s a whole lot easier to play from in front than from behind,” Ascension Catholic coach Benny Saia said.
The Rebels simply had no answer for the Bulldogs’ Wing-T attack.
“We felt like it always gives us an advantage. I was concerned about playing them a second time and had prepared for it once and had seen it on film some things, but we were able to execute and do OK,” said Saia.
Riverside faced Ascension Catholic’s Wing-T offense earlier in the season, losing 35-22 in Week 2. The Rebels fared little better the second time around as the Bulldogs were able to constantly attack with a bevy of running backs.
“I was curious to see how we would have improved from Week 2 to now with the team like that, but obviously, it just wasn’t going to be that type of year for us against guys like that,” said Dizer.
“It had nothing to do with the alignment and assignment this time,” the Riverside coach continued. “I think the first time we played them, that was an issue because kids hadn’t seen it. Today, we got lined up the right way, again, we are just too young and too soft of a football team right now.”
Ascension Catholic moves on and will host Southern Lab in the second round of the playoffs next week. Southern Lab, the No. 6 seed, won its opener 53-7 on Friday over St. Edmund, the No. 11 seed.
Following Simon’s touchdown, an interception on Riverside’s next possession gave Ascension Catholic the ball at its own 38 to end the first quarter.
The Bulldogs capitalized when Khai Prean ran wide left from 16 yards out to make it 21-0 at the 10:55 mark of the second quarter.
Riverside finally seemed to be on the move, reaching the Ascension Catholic 12-yard line. A Gage Larvadain pass off the hands of receiver Andre Murphy was hauled in by the Bulldogs’ Demontray Harry, who raced 86 yards along the Riverside sideline to give Ascension Catholic a 27-0 lead.
An example of the type of day it was for the Rebels came late in the first half.
A shanked punt of only 6 yards gave Riverside the ball at the Bulldogs’ 28-yard line. The Rebels eventually faced a fourth-and-26 and had to punt.
Riverside finally got on the scoreboard when Herb Keys returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 left before halftime to make it 27-6 at the break.
If the Rebels had any thoughts of a second-half comeback, it was quickly dashed when Ascension Catholic needed only two plays to score to open the third quarter.
When Williams took a direct snap and raced 20 yards for a touchdown, it was 34-6.
Not even a first-and-goal from the Riverside 35-yard line could stop Ascension Catholic. Williams raced the distance for a 41-6 lead.
Key seemingly tried to keep the Rebels in the game with a 71-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that made it 41-12.
The Rebels’ final score of the season came on a 9-yard run by Larvadain. That made the score 48-20 on Riverside’s way to the 55-20 loss.
Ascension Catholic runners seemed to bounce off a glancing blows from a young and tired Rebels defense during the entire second half.
“We had a lot of bodies dropping and you just get younger and younger. It is what it is. I’m not making any excuses. I think our program is definitely headed in the right direction. We have a roster size of 55 and 30 are of them are ninth grade and under,” said Dizer.