River Bluff turns lights out on Con­way’s sea­son with play­off win

The State - - Front Page - BY CHRIS DEARING Spe­cial for The State

A sea­son of firsts con­tin­ues for River Bluff.

Ju­nior Michael Rikard threw four touch­down passes as the Ga­tors de­feated Con­way 35-19 in the first round of the Class 5A play­offs. It’s the first-ever home play­off game in school his­tory and ad­vances River Bluff to the se­cond round for the se­cond time ever.

The 9-1 record is the bestever at River Bluff as well.

River Bluff will travel to Berke­ley, a 48-33 win­ner against Irmo, next Fri­day night.

“I’ve been real proud of our guys all year,” River Bluff coach Blair Hardin said. “Our coaches have done a heck of a job. It’s a big win for the pro- gram. I told the guys this week, we don’t want to just be happy to be in the play­offs, they should ex­pect this. Our goal is to be prac­tic­ing on Thanks­giv­ing ev­ery year.”

The Ga­tors had to play with­out lead­ing rusher in Braden Walker, who has an in­jured an­kle, but the of­fense didn’t miss a beat be­cause of Rikard and An­to­nio Gantt. Rickard threw touch­down passes of 3, 75, 5 and 62 yards to four re­ceivers. Gantt, who came in with over 800 yards rush­ing him­self, ran for 169 yards and one touch­down on 23 car­ries.

“(Rikard) grew up a lot tonight,” Hardin said. “He got hit a lot, but I was re­ally proud of the way he re­sponded. He hung in and bat­tled for our team. He stayed in there and made some good plays for us.”

Rikard directed a 2-minute of­fense at the end of the first half to give the Ga­tors some cush­ion. He con­nected with Austin Mur­ton on a 5-yard scor­ing pass with 34 sec­onds be­fore the half to give River Bluff a 21-12 lead.

Af­ter Con­way pulled within 21-19, Gantt scored on a 3-

yard run and Rikard sealed things with a 62yard scor­ing pass to Fellers Wise with 8:57 re­main­ing.

“It feels great to get a team win,” Rikard said. “We’ve all worked so hard to ac­com­plish this. I do know for a fact that we’re not fin­ish yet.”

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED

1. Rikard played well de­spite the ab­sence of Walker. The ju­nior fin­ished 7-of-11 for 162 yards and the ca­reer-best four scores. He did have his right hand wrapped in ice at the end, but he said it was a mi­nor in­jury.

2. There was a 21-minute power out­age in the first quar­ter. Con­way was lead­ing 6-0 at the time. Rikard said the de­lay al­lowed the Ga­tors to sort of re­group, talk some things out and come back fo­cused. The Ga­tors scored 21 se­cond quar­ter points af­ter that.

3. Walker might be back for the se­cond round. Gantt is 9 yards shy of 1,000 on the sea­son with Walker near 1,500. River Bluff will need all their weapons against a high­scor­ing Berke­ley team.

HOW THEY SCORED

1st Quar­ter C – Michael James 3 run (kick blocked) 7:09 2nd Quar­ter RB – Ri­ley My­ers 3 pass from Michael

Rikard (Coltin Hall­man kick) 10:04

RB – Tyson Trot­tier 75 pass from Rikard (Hall­man kick)

C – Xavier Kin­law 40 run (pass failed) 2:06

RB – Austin Mur­ton 5 pass from Rikard (Hall­man kick) 0:34 3rd Quar­ter

C – Kei­mone Gra­ham 12 pass from Daquin­ton Grady (Will Smith kick) 5:29

RB – An­to­nio Gantt 3 run (Hall­man kick) 1:37 4th Quar­ter RB – Fellers Wise 62 pass from Rikard (Hall­man kick) 8:57 IN­DI­VID­UAL STATIS­TICS

Rush­ing: C: Xavier Kin­law 20-173, Daquin­ton Grady 11-64, Michael James 10-49. RB: An­to­nio Gantt 23-169, Ri­ley My­ers 6-25, Michael Rikard 3-(-7)

Pass­ing: C: Grady 10-20-0-56. RB: Rickard 7-11-0-162

Re­ceiv­ing: C: Quancey Ben­nett 5-22, Steven Hill 2-23, Kei­mone Gra­ham 1-12, Kin­law 2-(-1). RB: Tyson Trot­tier 2-80, Fellers Wise 2-66, Da­mone Spencer 1-8, Austin Mur­ton 1-5, My­ers 1-3

JEFF BLAKE jblake@thes­tate.com

River Bluff Ga­tors re­ceiver Tyson Trot­tier is con­grat­u­lated af­ter mak­ing a 75-yard touch­down re­cep­tion against the Con­way Tigers dur­ing their play­off game Fri­day at River Bluff High School.

JEFF BLAKE jblake@thes­tate.com

River Bluff’s Ri­ley My­ers runs for a big gain dur­ing Fri­day’s play­off game against Con­way at River Bluff High School.

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