Riverside was coming off a 49-point loss and sitting at 1-5, while defending Class AAA champion South Charleston entered at 5-1 and ranked No. 8 in the state.
Despite all that, Riverside rallied from a two-touchdown second-half deficit to score 22 unanswered points, stunning SC 22-14 on senior night at Warrior Stadium in Quincy.
Riverside coach Alex Daugherty hopes the upset victory over the Black Eagles becomes a program-defining and building moment for his Warriors (2-5).
“This means a lot to me, because I am from here, and my goal is to bring the pride back,” Daughtery said. “Riverside pride, there is nothing like it, if we can have wins like this. I tell the seniors they can be the trailblazers that changes things. I want us to continue on this path.
“This win is huge. We’ll tell the players they can play with anyone. This just shows that we can play with the best, if we allow ourselves to. Until somebody dethrones them, they are the defending state champions.”
Meanwhile, it was a disappointing loss for SC and coach Donnie Mays.
“Tonight was a real bad night for us,” Mays said. “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. We are a talented team, but we aren’t a very good 5-2 football team. There were high expectations coming in, but last year’s team doesn’t mean anything this year.”
Riverside trailed just 7-0 at halftime after the Black Eagles scored a touchdown in the second quarter with 18.4 seconds left on a 9-yard pass from SC quarterback Trey Dunn to Wayne Harris.
The Black Eagles quickly made it 14-0 on their first possession of the second half, driving 99 yards on just three plays. SC capped the impressive drive on another connection from Dunn to Harris, this one coming on a 77-yard touchdown pass.
After another defensive stop, the Black Eagles got the ball back, and looked to score again and possibly put the game away. However, Dunn was intercepted on a deflection by Riverside’s Michael Terrell, changing the game completely.
Terrell’s interception set the Warriors up with great field position at the Black Eagles’ 11. Three plays later, Walker threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Roger Gray on third down. The 2-point conversion pass failed, but the Warriors cut the SC lead to 14-6 with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
The Black Eagles turned the ball over for the second straight possession, losing a fumble, giving the ball back to Riverside at their own 35.
Again the Warriors made SC pay, driving 65 yards on nine plays, and capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Walker to Gray on fourth and 15. The 2-point conversion pass to Terrell was successful and tied the game at 14 for Riverside with 11:20 left in the game.
The Warriors forced a punt, and took over at their own 19 yard line with 9:01 remaining. Riverside drove down the field and on fourth and goal at the SC 4, Walker connected with Gray for their third touchdown pass of the game.
Riverside successfully made the conversion pass to Terrell, and suddenly the Warriors led the Black Eagles 22-14 with 4:46 left in the game.
SC drove to the Riverside 41, but turned the ball over on downs. The Warriors tried to run out the clock, but Walker lost a fumble on third down, giving the Black Eagles one final chance to tie the game with 2:42 left in the game and the ball at the Riverside.
However, facing a third and 10 at the Warriors’ 24, Dunn attempted a pass into the end zone, but Walker made up for the fumble, intercepting the pass, and Riverside was able to run out the clock.
Walker was glad he was able to make up for the fumble and seal the monumental win for the Warriors.
“At that time, we are deep in our territory, and I fumbled,” Walker said. “It was scary. I knew I had to make up for it. I just read the quarterback’s eyes, came over and made the play. It felt great.
“This win is big and feels great. I think more wins will come from this. We came in today from 8 a.m. to the game, and was all locked in. We came in at halftime, and knew we was in the game with them. We just came out in the second half and fought for it.”
Walker was 8 of 14 passing for 137 yards, with the three touchdowns to Gray. Andrew Baria grounded out 101 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“This is Pickle’s, one of his first games back,” Daugherty said of Gray. “He broke his arm in the preseason. Jake and him have been playing together since midget league. Pickle is back, and it is his senior night. There’s no better way to celebrate it.”