Riverview finally earns first victory
It took a while, but Riverview finally got into the victory column with a narrow triumph over a conference rival.
Multi-threat senior Tim Wagner ran for a touchdown, caught a pass for another and had 93 yards of punt returns in the first half, as Riverview registered a 15-12 decision at Wilkinsburg on Saturday in a battle of winless Class A teams.
The victory also ended an 11-game Raiders' losing streak dating to last season.
Riverview moved to 1-4 overall, 1-4 in the Eastern Conference, while beating Wilkinsburg (0-5, 0-5) for the 16th time in 19 meetings and the 10th time in a row.
“We talked with the kids before the game, halftime and after the game, and it's just desire and who wants it more,” Riverview coach Todd Massack said.
“Riverview football has always been about good defense, and I'm proud of the way we played today.”
The Tigers didn't look like a winless team, driving seven plays for a touchdown on their first possession.
Two 11-yard passes to tight end Eric Dean set up a 1-yard plunge by Devin Stubbs.
The Raiders had trouble getting started offensively, collecting just 8 net yards in the first quarter.
But a 43-yard punt return by Wagner to the Wilkinsburg 38 gave Riverview a spark. After a 5-yard penalty, Wagner took a handoff and veered over the right side for a 33-yard touchdown run.
Wilkinsburg was plagued with penalties throughout the first half, getting flagged 10 times for 122 yards.
“The penalties just killed us,” Wilkinsburg coach Mike Fulmore said. “It's hard to win a ball game when you have that many penalties against you. We prepared very well for them today, and we played an aggressive style of defense against them.”
The Raiders took the lead for good in the third quarter after the ball went over Dean's head on a high punt snap. Riverview took over on downs at the Tigers' 39.
On the seventh play of the ensuing drive, Wagner got behind two Tigers defenders and caught Tyler Nigro's pass for a 25-yard touchdown. Jason Anthony added the extra point to put the Raiders in front, 13-7.
“We started out kind of slow - definitely not the way we wanted to, but we battled back,” Wagner said.
“This is what we've been working for all week in practice, and the coaches had us ready.”
Said Massack, “Anytime we have a chance to get Tim on one-on-one coverage, we try to get him the football and we put our money on Tim.”
A fumble recovery on the Riverview 31 resulted in Wilkinsburg's second touchdown, a 5-yard toss to Dean with 9:44 to go.
Wilkinsburg went for the potential go-ahead two-point conversion, but Ryan Cox's pass missed the mark.
“We were just in a regular defense, nothing special,” Massack said. “I think the pass hit the official.”
Riverview had the ball for 14 of the next 15 plays, helped by a Vinnie Piccolino fumble recovery at the Wilkinsburg 26.
The Tigers had one last gasp, but Raiders defensive lineman Yianni Tsambis forced Cox to throw an illegal pass from the end zone, resulting in a safety with 41 seconds left to cap the scoring.
George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.