This was one time Green Hope’s Owen Zalc was happy to have his 28-yard field goal taken off the scoreboard. He traded the roughing-the-kicker penalty he absorbed for a first down and the Falcons taking more time off the clock.
There was 2:46 left with Green Hope clinging to a two-point lead when the flag was thrown, and the Falcons opted to retain the ball. Four plays later, with 1:41 remaining, Zalc connected again from 28 yards.
The three points remained on the board as Green Hope edged Riverside 31-26 Friday night on the Falcons’ field.
“Oh, that hurt,” Zalc said of the hit he took. “But I’ll trade that, 100 percent, if it meant we could take more time off the clock.”
Riverside, with quarterback Landin Sledge throwing for 317 yards and four touchdowns in a quick-strike offense, took over with 1:36 remaining instead of over two minutes. The Pirates advanced to Green Hope’s 46-yard line before a hook-and-lateral play with two seconds remaining was stopped at the Falcons’ 25-yard line to end the game.
Green Hope only gained 183 total yards to Riverside’s 409, but the Falcons took advantage of Riverside’s mistakes.
In the first half, the Pirates’ initial five possessions ended fumble, fumble, fumble, downs and a pick six interception return.
The first fumble on Riverside’s opening possession at the Green Hope 6-yard line after driving 65 yards in nine plays. The second fumble was at the Falcons’ 39-yard line.
Riverside’s third fumble at its 26-yard line was caused Michael Odette as he hit and stripped quarterback Sledge. Tyre Pritchett recovered at the Pirate’s 21-yard line.
At that point in the scoreless game, Green Hope had minus-3 yards rushing with two sacks factored in. But running back Joshua Hullum finally found some holes for back-to-back 9-yard gains before scoring two plays later on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead with 7:38 left in the first half.
Two series later, Sledge’s pass bounced out of his receiver’s hands to Green Hope’s Jalen Corprew, who caught the ball on the run while pursuing the tackle and kept running with no one near in front of him to the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
RECORDS: Riverside (7-3-3-2) at Green Hope (7-2, 4-1) Triangle 8 4A)
THREE WHO MATTERED
Joshua Hullum, Green Hope: The senior made the most of the few holes against Riverside’s physical defense, finishing with 22 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Isaiah Jones, Riverside: The senior grabbed nine receptions for 128 yards and touchdowns of 34 and 27 yards.
Devin Smith, Riverside: The senior caught 10 passes for 136 yards with a 6-yard touchdown.
▪ Green Hope’s win kept the Falcons in the race for the Triangle 8 4A title. The week began with Panther Creek, Green Hope, Jordan and Riverside tied in the loss column with one defeat each. But since Panther Creek (4-1) had a bye, the Green Hope-Riverside winner remained tied in the race entering next week’s regular-season finales. Riverside finishes at Panther Creek, while Green Hope is at Jordan.
▪ Green Hope only had two penalties for the night totaling 25 yards.
GH — Joshua Hullum 1 run (Owen Zalc kick)
GH —Jalen Corprew 40 interception return (Zalc kick)
R — Isaiah Jones 34 pass from Landin Sledge (Caleb Browers kick)
GH — Hullum 3 run (Zalc kick)
R —Devin Smith 6 pass from Sledge (kick blocked)
R— Troy Jones 15 pass from Sledge (pass failed)
GH — Demeco Archangel 30 pass from Evan Ashworth (Zalc kick)
GH — Zalc 28 FG