A strong second half wasn't enough for the Prairie View Spartans to offset four turnovers and a 16-0 halftime deficit in the regular season opener. Withstanding two third quarter touchdowns by the Spartans, the visiting Riverdale Rebels held on for a 16-12 victory Friday night at Dr. E.D. Baker Field.
“I was proud of the effort,” Prairie View coach Reagan Morrison said. “When the kids came off the field Friday night, they didn't have anything left. I couldn't be more pleased with the effort.”
The majority of the first half was played on the Spartans' side of the field.
Prairie View stopped the Rebels on fourth-and-goal from the 3 late in the first quarter, only to turn the ball over a couple of plays later.
Riverdale punched it in following the fumble and added another score midway through the second quarter. Both 2-point conversions were good, which proved to be crucial.
Prairie View threatened late in the first half, but Lucas Crockett's touchdown pass to Cole Bryan was called back.
Crockett's 1-yard run closed the gap to 14-6 with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter, but the Spartans were unable to tack on the conversion.
Matt Reed's 70-yard touchdown pass from Crockett brought the Spartans within 16-12 with 11 seconds to play in the third frame.
Though unable to score in the second half, Riverdale was able to shorten the game behind a clock-eating ground attack.
“I didn't think we did a bad job in the first half, but I thought we tackled better in the second half,” Morrison said. “We were able to get some things going offensively in the second half. They were stacking the box on us and we hit the play action pass to Matt.”
Looking at the stat sheet, one item stands out. Riverdale was plus-4 in the turnover category.
“Riverdale played a great ballgame. They did the things they needed to do to win the ballgame,” Morrison said. “They didn't have any turnovers and we had four. You aren't going to win many ballgames with four turnovers.”
Reed had two catches for 97 yards and Bryan added two receptions for 34 to lead the Spartans offensively.
Hunter Carpenter (5 carries, 50 yards), Layne Gray (3-42), Crockett (4-20) and Nolan Whorton (1-13) accounted for the Spartans' 124 yards rushing.
Hunter Green was the Spartans' top tackler with 11 tackles and two sacks, while Nathan Tarver contributed seven tackles and a sack. Gray also collected seven tackles, followed by Dylan Mewborne with five.
Prairie View travels to Pineville on Friday at 7 p.m., before returning home against Claiborne Academy on Friday, Sept. 6.