When it first came out that Riverside Academy, the little 2A basketball powerhouse, had scheduled Class 5A football mammoth Hahnville for the first time, folks thought Riverside coach Bill Stubbs must be a little crazy.
Crazy like a fox, maybe.
Stubbs and the Rebels certainly left a whole lot of Hahnville fans scratching their heads Friday night after Riverside, the No. 2-ranked small schools team by The New Orleans Advocate, took a solid 10-7 victory over the No. 7-ranked large schools team.
And this was no fluke win, either. Riverside dominated the Tigers in the first half and for quite a bit of the second.
Led by Herb McGee, a wide receiver filling in for an injured starting quarterback, running back Brandon Sanders, and a couple of standout receivers, the Rebels outgained Hahnville 218 yards to 61 in the first half and had 15 first downs to Hahnville’s 4.
McGee directed the Rebels on a 91-yard opening drive that culminated in a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Gauthier with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter. He scored Riverside’s lone touchdown in the second quarter on a 16-yard run. McGee finished with 107 yards rushing on 25 carries and 94 yards passing on 10 completions. Sanders rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries.
“It’s a big win,” McGee said. “A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people thought we were crazy for playing them. But every player over there believes in us. And that’s what we build our program off of, not what everybody else believes.”
“One of the things I was real proud of was, we had, what, a 90-yard drive?” Stubbs said. “I tell you what. That’s the mark of a good football team. And we played the second half with guys that were beat up. And they played. That’s phenomenal.”
Hahnville did not move the ball nearly as well against a stout Riverside defense. The most impressive play in the Tigers’ first drive was Aaron Bourgeois’ 60-yard punt, which pinned the Rebels at their own 9. Bourgeois had a tremendous night, with punts of 41, 50 and 42 yards. Another 52-yarder was nullified by a penalty.
Hahnville really didn’t get moving until the second half. It’s biggest gain of the night was a 22-yard pass from quarterback Mike Neal to Dylan Crockett in the fourth quarter. But the Tigers’ first real scoring threat was thwarted at the Riverside 15-yard line when Riverside’s Kobe Foster recovered a fumble and returned it to the Hahnville 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
After forcing the Rebels to turn the ball over on downs at the Tiger 22-yard line with 8:36 remaining, Hahnville finally put together a scoring drive. They went 77 yards on 13 plays, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Devonte Cravin with 4:19 remaining.
Neal finished 13 of 18 for 104 yards. Anthony Williams led the running game with 65 yards on 11 carries.
The Rebels then left it up to McGee to keep the ball for Riverside and move the chains enough to run out the clock. That, he did, running for 29 yards and three first downs on four carries to seal the win.
“We gave it to the guy who gets it done,” Stubbs said. “He’s proven that over and over and over again.”