So much for the showdown.
This one was never close.
Riverside put together a near flawless performance Friday night and dominated Newman 55-14 in a battle of unbeatens.
The Rebels zapped the buzz out of the overflow crowd at Lupin Field with a first-half knockout that gave them the inside track in District 8-2A. But the Riverside players have their eyes on a bigger prize.
“We all have that mindset,” Riverside linebacker Evan Veron said. “Our biggest game isn’t Newman. We are trying to get to the big things — getting to the Dome.”
The Rebels (7-0, 4-0), ranked No. 3 in The New Orleans Advocate Small School Super 10 and No. 3 in Class 2A, looked to be in championship form as it beat Newman (6-1, 3-1) for the third straight season.
Unlike the past two seasons, this one didn’t come down to the last play.
“We have a good football team,” Riverside coach Bill Stubbs said. “What we were trying to do was just put ourselves in a better position. We held firm to what we believe in.”
Riverside took advantage of three Newman interceptions in the first half to build a commanding 38-7 lead at halftime.
Riverside’s Blake Doming picked off Newman sophomore Miles Lapeyre on the Greenies’ first possession. Brandon Sanders cashed in on the first play, scoring on an 8-yard run.
Newman tied it when Kendall Bussey turned a screen from Lapeyre into a 65-yard touchdown with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
It was the 22nd touchdown of the season for Bussey, a Nebraska commit. He scored another in the second half.
But Newman, No. 2 in the Super 10 and No. 6 in 2A, would need a lot more to keep up with the Rebels, who rolled up 31 more points over the next 18 minutes. The first score came just 22 seconds after Bussey’s touchdown.
Freshman quarterback Jordan Loving found Tyler Gauthier for a 52-yard score, and the rout was on.
Herb McGee came around on a reverse and took a handoff from Loving, then threw a touchdown pass to Von Julien on the first play of the second quarter. Julian, also a standout in basketball, finished with eight catches for 192 yards and four touchdowns.
After another interception, this one by Jacob Venus, Sanders scored again on a 7-yard run.
Gauthier booted a 40-yard field goal that looked like it would’ve been good from 55 to 60 yards, pushing the score to 31-7. Then the Rebels delivered the dagger.
Newman drove to the Rebels’ 15-yard line, but Kendall Martin intercepted a pass to stall the drive.
Riverside closed out the half with a 10-play, 99-yard drive that took just 1 minute, 59 seconds. Loving capped the drive with a 6-yard pass to Julian.
“Obviously we got overwhelmed early,” Newman coach Nelson Stewart said. “A lot of the things you saw were physical tonight. They just physically outmatched us. This was a gauge game. I think Riverside showed that they are right there with teams like Calvary Baptist and Catholic-New Iberia. Give them credit. That’s where their program is. My job is to rebuild ours, and we will.”
Loving completed 17 of 25 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns, including a 27- and 48-yarder to Julian in the second half. Bussey finished with 78 yards on 22 carries.
“Honestly, I wasn’t,” Stubbs said when asked whether he was surprised by his team’s performance. “I knew that they have game-changers, but I just felt like we controlled what we do.”