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Prep football: Bears stun Cougars
BY NICK ST. DENIS
Riverbend will live and die by its toughness in the trenches this season.
The Bears wouldn’t have it any other way.
Riverbend dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and held its own defensively Friday night in a 25–9 nondistrict victory over the Courtland Cougars.
“We’re trying to be a physical defense and a physical offense,” Riverbend coach Tony DeMarco said after the game. “I thought we did a pretty good job of doing that tonight.”
The Bears held Courtland to three total points in the first three quarters, not only thanks to stout defensive play, but also because of a time-consuming campaign on offense.
“We had all the big guns in tonight,” Riverbend quarterback Eric Byrd said of his offensive line. “They pushed, pushed and pushed and kept [Courtland] off the field, which I think had a lot to do with how we won.”
The return of tight end Jamie Deason and offensive tackle Tyler Marion played a huge role in the Bears’ offensive success.
The pair teamed up on the right side on multiple occasions to power Riverbend to 169 yards rushing.
“All of a sudden you put those two monsters side-by-side and it’s a little easier to run the ball,” DeMarco said.
Courtland outgained Riverbend on the ground, though most of its yardage came from just a few plays.
Brandon Mason gashed Riverbend’s defense with runs of 44 and 26 yards, and fellow Cougar Darien Grant tacked on a 23-yarder of his own.
The 44-yarder could’ve been a huge game-changer, as the long scamper put Courtland in the red zone with under a minute to go in the first half.
However, DaVonte Christmas made a huge interception immediately after, allowing Byrd to kneel Riverbend into halftime unscathed.
In fact, Riverbend’s defense had more big plays than its offense, as Patrick Harter returned a fumble recovery 51 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Eddie Reyes and Ian Dario also made interceptions.
Dario’s pick set up Riverbend’s first touchdown, and Matt Capozza later put the Bears in scoring position on a 37-yard punt return, which resulted in one of Zach Sims’ two scores.
Courtland also lost two fumbles.
“They wanted it more than we did,” Courtland coach J.C. Hall said. “They were the better football team, and they deserved to win, tonight.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Courtland got on the board first early in the second stanza with a 25-yard field goal kick by Seth Yurgel.
The Cougars wouldn’t score again until just over five minutes were left in the game when Joe Tyson got in the end zone on a 1-yard run.
Deason was the first Bear to score, finding pay dirt on a 7-yard pass from Byrd. It was Byrd’s first completion of the game.
Zach Sims, who led Riverbend in rushing with 98 yards on 16 carries, scored on rushes of 35 and five yards in the third quarter.
Mason led Courtland in rushing with 85 yards on just six carries, and Grant added 50 yards of his own on eight touches.
“The positive is we have another chance to prove ourselves next week,” Hall said.
Courtland 0 3 0 6 — 9
Riverbend 0 6 13 6 — 25
Rb-J. Deason 7-yard pass from E. Byrd (pass failed)
Ct-S. Yurgel 25-yard field goal
Rb-Z. Sims 35-yard run (H. Mills kick)
Rb-Z. Sims 5-yard run (kick failed)
Rb-P. Harter 51-yard fumble recovery (kick failed)
Ct-J. Tyson 1-yard run (None)
First downs7 11
Rushing yardage37-184 43-169
Passing yardage12 47
Rushing:Riverbend—Zach Sims 16-98, 2TD; Eric Byrd 19-39; Eddie Reyes 7-28; Matt Capozza 1-4. Courtland—Brandon Mason 6-85; Darien Grant 8-50; Anton Jenkins 8-37; Joe Tyson 10-17, TD; Brandon Taylor 1-(-2); Eric Washington 4-(-3).
Passing:Riverbend—Eric Byrd 5-10-0 47, TD. Courtland—Eric Washington 1-8-3 12.
Receiving:Riverbend—Conner Booren 1-20; Jamie Deason 2-12, TD; Ryan Waterson 1-8; Matt Capozza 1-7. Courtland—Chris Carpenter 1-12.
Nick St. Denis: 540/374-5440