PARIS — Riverview battled Paris on Friday night inside Eagles Stadium in the first round of the 2021 Class 3A state football playoffs.
Riverview had a chance to upset the Eagles but the Raiders came up just one-yard short, and the magical football season at Riverview was finished with a 17-14 defeat. Riverview finished the season 5-6, forgetting last season at Riverview when the Raiders lost nine games with no wins and finished in last place in the 3A-2 conference.
The offensive game plan for the Raiders provided plenty of tense moments for Paris coach Jeff Weaver, assistant coaches, the local radio announcer and the fans watching from their seats.
Riverview was able to attack the Paris defense with a solid ground game and that was something that the Eagles were not expecting from the Raiders.
The rushing attack was a combination of runs of between the tackles and then exploding around the end of the wide side of the field. The plan was a perfect model of a triple option attack guided by Raiders senior quarterback Israel Gameros.
Riverview coach Chris Keylon said after the game that the combination of junior fullback Koby Teeter and tailback Jeremy Racca is a great combination of a one-two punch that their success running the ball helps the Riverview offense possess the ball longer and extend drives during the game.
The running attack of the Raiders produced 211 yards against the Eagles defense, Racca ran for 95 yards and he scored one touchdown.Teeter was able to help with the power running and forcing the Eagles defensive backs into the box and he punished the Eagles defense for 47 yards but did not score a touchdown.
Gameros cut through the Eagles defense and ran the football for 97 yards and he ran for one touchdown. He led the Raiders offense for 271 yards of total offense including throwing the football 10 times and completing four passes for 45 yards.
Keylon was pleased with the play of the offensive line that kept the Eagles defense away from the pocket and that allowed the Raiders’ ground attack to be successful.
“The offensive line played outstanding,” he said. “That defensive line is probably the best part of their defense. They are big and they move well plus they are coached well. Our offensive line did an excellent job.”
With time ticking away in the fourth quarter, Riverview did have a chance for the upset but the Raiders came up-just one yard short.
With the football resting on the turf of brown grass at the 2-yard line, with the play called in the huddle, Gameros led his offense to the line of scrimmage.
Gameros took the snap of the football, the offense line formed the wall of white jersey and pinched the Eagles defensive line rush toward the middle of the field.
Gameros looked to his left and optioned to hand the ball off to Racca and he was running hard and fast toward the right end.
Racca kept his feet moving and he looked for the secondary gap to make his cut back. Eagles senior strong safety Duke Walker reached out his hands and they slipped off of Racca’s shoulder pads and Walker was on the ground. With one desperate swipe of his arm, Walker got just enough of Racca’s ankle causing Racca to stumble, he tried to regain his balance but he fell on top of the brown grass at the 1-yard line.
“We are in a playoff game and face a very potent offense that they have and I feel like we had to score a touchdown to win the game,” Keylon said. “We came up short and they really did a good job stopping us on the goal line. I would call the same play again.”
Riverview’s defense only allowed the Eagles 203 yards of total yardage, 156 yards came from the Eagles rushing attack. The defense for the Raiders forced a fumble by senior defensive back Will Wilson and recovered by sophomore safety Oquoieah Earl.
“I am really proud of our defense,” Keylon said. “That team averages 40 points a game and we held them to 17 points. Things happen, plays happen and it was a great football game and I am proud of my kids.”
With 9:11 in the third quarter, the Raiders were enjoying a touchdown drive of 65 yards that lasted for six plays and that gave Riverview a 14-7, lead.
Paris took the field for the next possession after the touchdown and it looked like the Eagles possession was going to be over. With 7:30 minutes left in the third quarter, it appeared like that the Raiders defense had stopped the Eagles short of the first down on a fourth down play.
As the Raiders celebrated the defensive stop, the game official believed that there was too much celebration on the sideline, he threw the yellow flag into the air and called a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Raiders. The referee marched 15-yards which resulted in a first down and that penalty allowed the Eagles to keep the football and keep the scoring drive alive.