Second Half Defense, Heavy Running Pave Way for No. 2 Football

Photo by Bobby R. Hester
Photo by Bobby R. Hester

While acting as one of the three undefeated teams in the state, the No. 2 Tigers faced a deficit at halftime against the Southwestern College Jaguars that put their unscathed mark in jeopardy. Riverside trailed for the first time this season entering into the locker room, but a 27 point second half and a flawless defense paved the way to victory on Saturday by the final score of 34-12.

The Riverside defense was as stout as ever as they held the Jaguars to 304 yards of offense including a mere 67 yards on the ground. It is the second-consecutive contest that Riverside has held their opponents to under 15 total points. Despite allowing all 12 points in the second quarter, the Tigers rebounded in the second half to force five punts and capped the game on Southwestern's final drive via interception compliments of freshman corner back Kylen Ross. Four of the six unsuccessful drives were three and outs.

Sophomore Zechariah Holifield was a magnet to the ball as he recorded nine tackles with eight of them acting as solo stops. Sophomore safety Isaia PaoPao followed with eight stops in his return from injury, while freshman Shawn Dourseau continued to make an impact with six tackles and one pass break up.

Offensively, Riverside was run heavy in their attack as seen in 41 attempts for 236 yards. Two scores came on the ground while two touchdowns came through the aerial attack.  Freshman quarterback Jacob Barlage was the root to both levels of weaponry.

Barlage embodied a true dual quarterback as he went 9-for-12 with 212 passing yards and one passing touchdown. In addition, he carted the rock four times for 28 yards and two scores. It is the third time this season he has recorded at least one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

Freshman slot back Dylan Laurent was the recipient of Barlage's touchdown pass. They connected for a seven-yard score to cap a nine play, 71-yard drive to put Riverside up 31-12 late in the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Mike Irwin, who started under center, had a below average game but was responsible for the Tiger's opening six points. He located freshman wide receiver Isaiah Leeth for a 12-yard touchdown. It is Leeth's second-straight contest with a score and sixth-straight game with at least one reception.

Freshman Ricardo Chavez put his talents on display in the fourth quarter as he etched the final six points on the board for the Tigers. He booted home a 27-yarder backed by a 22-yard chip shot to seal a 34-12 victory.

Riverside (8-0, 3-0) will return home for their final guaranteed contest of the regular season against the Orange Coast College Pirates. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.