The Riverdale Baptist Crusaders remained perfect on its home field as the team defeated the Pallotti Panthers 35-18 Friday night, in front of a packed crowd for senior night.
“I think we just came out and we played with all of our heart tonight, It was our senior night so we wanted to do this for our seniors,” said Terrell Blount “ We don’t know if they’re [seniors] are ever going to play football again and we just wanted to leave it all on the field, and get this victory.”
Pallotti from its opening drive looked to control the ball and tried doing so behind running back Jaret Patterson. Run the ball is exactly what the Panthers did. On the teams opening drive the Panthers ran the ball on eight of its nine possessions, finishing with a James Patterson four yard run to take the early 6-0 lead.
After a shoulder injury sidelined starting running back Jonathon Lee on the teams opening drive, back-up Carlos Washington Jr. replaced him and was able to break off two long runs that set the Crusaders up at the Panthers two yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Terrell Blount would punch it in for a score from the three yard line, giving the Crusaders a 7-6 lead after the extra point.
Riverdale Baptist defense was able to force a quick three and out, taking over at midfield following a short punt from Pallotti. Riverdale would make Pallotti pay. After a holding penalty pushed Riverdale back to midfield, Blount would get back the penalty yards and then some with a gorgeous 48 yard touchdown pass down the middle to Cody Wilburn, the score extended Riverdale lead to 13-6 as the first quarter came to an end.
The Panthers defense was finally able to slow down the Crusaders as the team forced Blount into a fumble that was recovered by Justin Mulbah at its own 15 yard line.
The Crusaders were able to capitalize on the turnover putting together an eight play 85 yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a 29 yard screen pass and run for a touchdown by Jaret Patterson; the score brought the Panthers within one with 1:28 to play in the half.
That 1:28 proved to be just enough time for the Crusaders. On the ensuing kick, Zachary McPherson took the kickoff and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown extended the Crusaders lead to 20-12, going into the half.
“I was just looking for a hole cause in film we saw that the kick off team didn’t really take the it [kickoff] seriously, so I took advantage of that, to get us some momentum going into halftime to get us on top.” said McPherson.
Riverdale Baptist picked off where they left off as the second half got underway. Blount was able to find wide receiver Tariq Castro-Fields in the endzone for an 11 yard touchdown reception.
Pallotti answered on its next drive, starting from its own 20 yard line, brothers Jaret and James Patterson combined for 70 of the 80 yards on the drive, including a 27 yard touchdown catch from James, the Panthers trailed 28-18 going into the fourth quarter.
While the Panthers got a big night on the ground from Jaret Patterson, 27 carries 256 yards and two total touchdowns, it wasn’t enough to offset a lackluster passing attack, even with two touchdowns coming via the passing game.
Blount was able to tack on another passing touchdown, his third of the game, the second of the night going to Wilburn; the touchdown put the game out of reach at 35-18 with just under five minutes to play.
“Terrell is one of the toughest guys I got, after that first game everybody was talking about we need to move that guy and this and that,” said Riverdale Baptist head coach Caesar Nettles, “ He’s a really really good leader and I wouldn’t trade him for anybody,”
The win guaranteed Riverdale Baptist a winning record for the year, the Crusaders will end its season next week when they go on the road to take on Loyola Bakefield.