ONA — Cabell Midland got to work early, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter and rolled past No. 15 Riverside 42-6 in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs Saturday afternoon at The Castle.
The Knights committed eight penalties for 60 yards and its normally tough defense yielded 252 rushing yards, but Cabell Midland forced two turnovers that made a big difference.
The win sends No. 2-seeded Cabell Midland (11-0) into next weekend’s quarterfinals against another Kanawha Valley team, No. 7 George Washington (8-3), which defeated Huntington 17-10 Friday night.
Midland worked with a short field on its first two possessions, scoring on TD runs by J.J. Roberts and Hayden Hass.
Riverside (4-7) fought hard early, getting good defensive penetration on the Knights, forcing two punts in the first quarter. Warriors running back Charlie Pierson ripped off a 45-yard run that set Riverside up for a first-and-10 at the Midland 11-yard line, but the Knights defense held to preserve the lead.
On its next possession, Riverside fumbled inside its own 35 as quarterback Javante Elzy and running back Caden Easterling collided in the backfield. The ball went into the air and tumbled into the hands of Knights linebacker Cooper Hardman, who returned the ball 33 yards for a TD to make it 21-0.
Riverside again used a combination of Easterling and Pierson to move into Knights territory. Turning away from its ground game, Elzy attempted a pass that was intercepted by Mason Moran at the Riverside 11.
Roberts connected with tight end Zach McCoy on the next play for a 69-yard pass completion, and two plays later Jakob Caudill went to the end zone on an 8-yard TD run for a 28-0 lead.
Roberts then found Hass on a catch and run that went for a 58-yard TD to set the halftime score at 35-0. Roberts finished the game 3 of 4 passing for 132 yards and a touchdown.
“It wasn’t our best effort,” Roberts said after the game. “It’s a team win and we’re moving on.”
A scoreless third quarter for both teams allowed for a running clock in the fourth and Riverside finally turned its offensive production into points.
Easterling, whose 1,438 yards on the season bested Caudill for the Mountain State Athletic Conference rushing title during the regular season, scored on a 2-yard run. A 2-point conversion attempt failed when Elzy’s pass was just over the head of Easterling in the back of the end zone.
On the enusing drive, Caudill raced for a 39-yard touchdown that set the final score. Caudill outgained Easterling 136-105.
“Mistakes are always going to happen,” Easterling said. “But I’m proud of my team.”
Salmons promised his team it would be watching film from Saturday’s contest to learn from mistakes he said could not happen if it hopes to advance further.
“We have momentum going in against GW,” Roberts said. “GW is a great team and we’ll be ready to play.”
Day and time of the Cabell Midland-George Washington quarterfinal in Ona will be determined Sunday.