High school football is all about the pageantry of the game and the memories made that will last a lifetime.
On Saturday, Riverdale defeated Salmen 48-31 to secure its best record since 2009.
Riverdale (4-4) wasted little time igniting the offensive fireworks. Donte Jackson took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. On Friday, Jackson received his U.S. Army All-American all-star game jersey, and he wanted to show why he was worthy of such an honor.
Jackson finished with 66 yards receiving and 86 yards rushing.
“My eyes were big once I saw they were kicking to me,”Jackson said. “I knew that I had to score so I kept running and never thought about stopping. I received my All-American jersey (Friday), and I wanted to show why they choose me. It was our senior game; so I wanted to do everything for my team.”
The Spartans (1-7) responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by Johnny Lowery to tie it at 7. Despite the miscues and turnovers, Salmen only trailed 28-19 headed into halftime.
That was thanks in large part to a 20-second drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to James Lambert.
Spartans quarterback Johnny Passaro hit eight receivers en route to passing for 301 yards.
“Coming into the game we knew what was on the line, but we just didn’t get it done,” Salmen coach Jerry Leonard said. “We had to have a win, and we came up short. We tried to contain (Jackson), but he is a great athlete and it showed. He made us pay for our special teams mistakes.”
The Riverdale defense forced five turnovers.
Riverdale running back Andre Sims returned a blocked punt for a 40-yard touchdown with no time remaining in the first quarter. Moments later he capped an 11-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Salmen answered again when Lowery burrowed through the defense for a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth down. Rebels running back Darius Bovie scored from 1 yard out with 31 seconds left in the first half.
The scoring continued in the second half when Riverdale quarterback Christian Smith hit Tedric White for a 22- yard touchdown.
Defensive lineman Tyrus Butler got in on the action when he took a handoff on a 1-yard touchdown run. The Rebels scored their final touchdown when Smith Bovie with an 85-yard touchdown pass. That widened the gap to 48-19.
“I’m really proud of these kids and how they played today,” Riverdale coach Brett Bonnaffons said. “I’m just speechless and happy. This is the first time Riverdale has been at .500 this late in the season since 2009. You have to go back to 1990 to see that happen again. The scenario was if we win we’re in (the playoffs) and we won. So I’m grateful for that and this total team effort. We wanted to put he ball in the hands of our playmakers and we did that.”
The Spartans didn’t go down quietly, scoring two more touchdowns to close the final gap to 17 points.
Passaro found Robert Hayes for a 46-yard touchdown with 1:31 left in the third quarter. He later tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Lowery with just over three minutes left in regulation.