After all of the hard work and countless hours of football training in the excruciating heat this month, it was finally time for River Valley to showcase its product on Friday night. The Falcons opened up their season in the win column as they held on late to defeat Woodland by a final score of 14-7.
With under a minute to go in regulation, Woodland was looking to get in the redzone. Quarterback Zachary Davis dropped back and attempted to find a receiver down the side line. That’s when River Valley’s Raiden Toche swooped in and got the game-winning interception to seal the deal for the home team.
“That team is very improved, they were coached up very well and it showed,” co-head coach Brennan McFadden said. “One thing I love about my guys is they played their butts off. We’re 1-0 and we’ll learn from this and get better next week,” he added.
Things would start off on the right note for River Valley. After they converted a third and manageable in their own territory, it was off to the races for the home team as Dalton Whiteley pierced through the defense for multiple long gains.
The home crowd would finally hear the familiar sound of the fog horn when Whiteley rushed for a seven yard touchdown to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead after a successful point after attempt.
Although the Woodland offense wouldn’t get a possession until just over three minutes into the game, Davis would make his name heard. Multiple times he rushed for the first downs on a quarterback-keeper or option play.
But the Falcons defense wouldn’t budge just yet as they forced two turnover on downs and recovered a fumble in the first quarter.
When Davis led a drive down into the red zone, the River Valley defense stepped up and held the elusive quarterback on a fourth and short at the Falcon’s five yard line. Leading the charge was senior middle linebacker Trevor Perrucci.
“We knew we had our hands full with the way he can get out of the pocket and run, but we didn’t let it overwhelm us. We held our composure and made some crucial stops when we had to and I think that was the difference maker,” Perrucci said.
The Faclons offense knew they had to get back to their dominance that was their first drive. Quarterback Ian Harvey and his offensive teammates would capitalize off of a botched snap on a punt attempt by Woodland allowing River Valley to set up shop at the Wolves’ 30-yard line.
Before the Woodland coaching staff could even ask what happened, the Falcons scored on the next play when sophomore Ryan Moore rushed up the middle to give the home team a 14-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first half.
Just as it looked like the Falcons would take a two possession lead heading into halftime, Woodland managed to get into the redzone with just under a minute left after they completed a bobbled pass and got some help from a Falcons person foul penalty.
On fourth and goal with less than 30 seconds left, Davis dropped back and hit his receiver Jay Jay Jackson for a touchdown and the Wolves closed the margin to make the score 14-7 at halftime.
“We weren’t happy with their late score and knew we had to regroup coming out into the third quarter,” McFadden said. “We had to shut them down in order to give us a chance to win the game.”
And shut them down they did. The third quarter was mainly a battle for field position with both teams attempting to move the ball into the other team’s territory.
After a failed drive with less than five to-go in the fourth quarter, Woodland was forced to punt.
This is when it appeared River Valley would be able to milk the clock with the ground game, but as soon as Moore carried the ball over mid-field he fumbled giving the Wolves one last chance that would end in the interception by Toche.
“We’ll get in the film room and work the kinks out heading into next week, but overall I’m really proud of the guys tonight and the way they battled through adversity,” McFadden said.
River Valley (1-0) will head to west Sacramento next week when they take on River City (0-1). Kick is set for 7:15 p.m.