South Charleston still has a few things to iron out, but the Black Eagles did enough good things Friday night to pick up their first win.Junior quarterback Jon Alexander directed an offense that accounted for 551 yards of total offense as SC exploded for a 56-33 victory over pesky Riverside. A crowd of about 5,000 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup at Oakes Field in South Charleston.The teams combined for eight TDs in the fourth quarter as momentum swung wildly, especially during a 1-minute, 20-second stretch in which five scores occurred.After taking a seemingly commanding 26-7 lead late in the third quarter, the Black Eagles (1-1) lost focus a bit as the Warriors (1-1) seized momentum early in the fourth quarter and closed within 26-21."The next thing we know, we're playing for our lives when it didn't have to be that hard,'' said SC coach John Messinger, whose squad dropped a close 36-24 decision to George Washington last week in its season opener."We got complacent. We came out ready to put the stake in the heart and what do we do, we start playing on our heels and they come back and make a real game of it.''Riverside senior linebacker Alex Hillmon recovered a blocked punt in the end zone 58 seconds into the final period. After recovering the onside kick, the Warriors struck again as senior wideout Marcus Reed came open for a 52-yard scoring pass from first-year senior quarterback Trevor Rumberg with 10:48 left in the game.
SC needed just one play to right the ship as Alexander found junior wide receiver Marquel Hampton wide open over the middle for a 62-yard catch-and-run TD to restore order and give the Black Eagles a 34-21 edge with 10:27 to go.Riverside hung tough though and Rumberg hit senior receiver Dameria Lane down the right sideline for a 61-yard score on the first play from scrimmage to cut its deficit to 34-27 with 10:06 left.The Black Eagles this time hung onto the ensuing onside kick and two plays later sophomore running back A.D. Cunningham scampered in from 34 yards out to seize momentum for good and take a 42-27 lead.
That began a stretch of three straight TDs for SC as senior Trevond Reese, who scored earlier on a 95-yard kickoff return, burst in from 9 yards after senior Ray-Sheed Coleman's interception for a 48-27 edge. Reese then scored on a 33-yard catch-and-run from Alexander after the Warriors turned the ball over on downs for a 56-27 lead."It was just blown coverages on defense and the offense not executing,'' said Hampton, who finished with 147 yards on five catches and scores of 62 and 63 yards."We knew we could pull it together. We're getting better week-by-week. The coaches believed in us and we believed in ourselves. We know what we're capable of. We know we can put up points.''Alexander accounted for 365 total yards, completing 18-of-30 passes with three TDs and one interception and adding 47 yards on 10 carries and two scores. He also converted four 2-point conversions either by passing or running."They're a very talented ballclub,'' said Riverside coach Ralph Hensley of SC. "As far as I'm concerned, they're pretty close to being the best team in the state. They do tackle.''
Rumberg threw for 191 yards on 11-of-23 accuracy with three TDs and two picks. He also added 77 yards on 12 carries. Reed finished with five receptions for 92 yards and one score.Messinger said he knows his team has to get better."It's just tough to stand on the sideline and coach when you think you're probably a little better football team and know that you're probably a little bit better athletically, then we're doing the little things on the field when we're not keeping that concentration and we get those little breakdowns."If we're going to survive the rest of this season we're going to have to play better for 48 minutes.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org