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Behind big night from Sledge, Riverside hammers Hillside, 54-28

On Friday night, Landin Sledge made Hillside’s stadium his playground.

The Riverside-Durham junior quarterback sliced and diced the Hornets’ defense to the tune of seven touchdowns in a 54-28 shootout win. He hit passes long and short, scrambled comfortably and linked up with four different receivers for scores in the victory.

“I was glad to see him come back and have some success,” Riverside coach Cory Lea said of Sledge. “He was a little banged up after last week, but to be able to come and throw that many touchdowns and pick up where he left off, I was really proud of him.”

When Hillside made early mistakes, Riverside capitalized. The Pirates’ first two touchdowns came after the Hornets bobbled a snap on a punt and lost a fumble. From there, both offenses took over.

Sledge spread the ball all over the field, but Hillside hung around thanks to quarterback Wilson Kargbo Jr., who threw two first-half touchdown passes to Sledge’s five. Hornets running back Dante Smith Jr. also ripped off a long touchdown to keep his team within range.

Riverside led 33-21 at halftime but went three and out on its first second-half drive. After forcing a turnover on downs, though, the Pirates executed a huge, momentum-killing clock burner of a drive.

Riverside converted on multiple third downs and drained most of the third quarter, and running back Donte McCall finished off the drive with a short rushing touchdown. The Pirates held strong in a defensive second half to spoil Hillside’s homecoming night.

“Couldn’t be more proud,” Lea said with a smile. “We’ve got some things to fix on defense, but when you can put up some points, it’s always good on the other side.”

Records: Riverside-Durham (6-1, 2-0 Triangle 8) Hillside (2-5, 1-2 Triangle 8).

Three who mattered

Landin Sledge, Riverside-Durham: The junior, who led the NCHSAA in passing yards going into this game with 1,863, added plenty more Friday night. He also boosted his passing touchdown total to 31 in seven games.

Devin Smith, Riverside-Durham: The Pirates’ receivers were dominant, and Smith was their statistical leader. The senior caught three touchdowns, including the game-icing score, and was active all night.

Wilson Kargbo Jr., Hillside: Kargbo was Hillside’s starting junior varsity quarterback this fall until injuries brought him to the varsity roster. In his first career start, he looked comfortable enough, throwing for three touchdowns — including two long ones to receiver Trey Crews.

Worth noting

  • Riverside’s McCall, a junior running back, was key in the second half. As the game slowed down, his power running was crucial — especially so on the drive that put the Pirates up 40-21.
  • Senior receiver Trey Crews was Hillside’s most productive skill player. He caught two long touchdown passes from Kargbo and had an impressive sideline catch negated by penalty.
  • The Hornets had a great opportunity late in the first half after forcing a punt. Kargbo drove them near the end zone, but on fourth goal, Hillside opted for a field goal, bobbled the snap and entered the half down 33-21.

Scoring summary:

RDHS — Landin Sledge pass to Troy Jones (Caleb Bowers missed extra point)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Quinton Freeman II (Bowers made XP)

HHS — Wilson Kargbo Jr. pass to Trey Crews (Mario Bustillo-Calix made XP)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Isaiah Jones (Bowers missed XP)

HHS — Dante Smith Jr. run (J’on Brown two-point rush)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Devin Smith (two-point conversion failed)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Smith (Sledge two-point rush)

HHS — Kargbo pass to Crews (two-point conversion failed)

RDHS — Donte McCall rush (Bowers made XP)

HHS — Kargbo pass to D’Andre Martin (Bustillo-Calix made XP)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Smith (Bowers made XP)

RDHS — Sledge pass to Isaiah Jones (Bowers made XP)

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