Riverside head coach Chris Howell ran off the field just like his team started its season opener - fast.
His Pirates opened the game on a three-play, 16-yard score, finished off by Cole Infinito’s 1-yard touchdown run just three minutes into the game as they dominated from start to finish in their 35-0 win over the Chapel Hill Tigers.
Assistant coach Ahmani Owens praised his defense, who came out ready. They allowed minus-10 rushing yards and had an interception in the first half.
“Our defense was hungry,” said Owens. “They’ve been in the weight room all summer. Since the end of last season and the way it ended, they came out ready to hit someone.”
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The Pirates scored on their second possession when Infinito found Sysco Whitaker wide open on the right side of the field for a 42-yard score to make it 13-0 just five minutes into the game. Infinito threw for 122 yards and also ran for two scores.
Infinito threw just three passes in the first half, in large part due to a successful ground game. Kaligah Murrell took the majority of the carries on his way to a game-high 99 yards. D’Anthony Bright rushed for 78 yards and Jordan Parker ran for 48.
“We were up large, the running game was working. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Owens on the run-focused offense. “Kaligah had the hot hand tonight. If it wasn’t him, we’d go to someone else who could get the job done.”
The Tigers struggled moving the ball against the Pirates’ defense. Chapel Hill only had two positive rushing plays in the first half. Alec Stough threw for 93 yards but a miscue late in the first half eventually turned into a touchdown on the following drive for Riverside to make it 28-0 at the break.
Three to know
Javon Wells, Chapel Hill: Wells tied a team-high with three catches and 31 receiving yards.
Jeff Gunter, Riverside: Gunter picked off Stough in the first half around midfield. One play later, Riverside scored.
Alec Stough, Chapel Hill: Stough’s strong performance (13/27 for 93 yards) was the lone bright spot for the Tigers offense.
By the numbers
5: The Pirates had five different ball carriers tonight. All but one finished with positive rushing yards.
1: Cole Infinito was used more often in the second half. He had six completions and just one incompletion.