Chargers edge past Knights
Though the final score may not reflect it, there was a defensive battle Friday night when Riverside clashed with Ayden-Grifton. Collectively, the two teams’ defenses combined for 28 of the 49 points scored in Riverside’s 28-21 loss to Ayden-Grifton Friday night in both team’s season opener.
The majority of the game was contested between the 20’s, and as with traditional season openers, nothing was of the conventional.
Both offenses struggled early, but special teams and defense stepped up to put the first points on the board.
The Chargers struck first when midway through the first quarter senior defensive back Tyree Blount returned a punt 74 yards down the right sideline to score.
Not to be outdone, on the next Ayden possession Riverside’s junior defensive back Ross Byrd intercepted a Brandon Larry pass and took it the distance to tie the game at 7-7.
Then it seemed that the Chargers were beginning to get their offense rolling. Ayden put together a 56-yard drive that ended with a Larry run into the end zone that put the Chargers up 14-7.
The Knights found new life after the Chargers muffed a punt and made the most of it. On the next play Jadarian Brown, who finished with 59 yards on 10 carries, broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run but the ensuing extra point was blocked and left the team trailing 14-13.
A controversial non-call by the officials allowed Ayden-Grifton to tack on seven points in the second quarter. Riverside quarterback Matthew Wisniewski dropped back to pass and was hit hard by AG’s Justin Brown. The ball popped loose and so did Wisniewski’s helmet. The Charger’s Drew Turnage scooped up the fumble and carried it home for six. This left Knights’ coaches confused as they felt that play is supposed to be stopped when a player’s helmet comes off. The referee’s interpretation of the rule was different and the play stood as called on the field. Ayden-Grifton took their 21-13 lead into the half.
The Knights trailed 21-13 at the break and the second half began just as the first, with both offenses trying to find their rhythm. The Chargers were threatening seven minutes into the third but the Riverside “D” came up big and stuffed the Chargers on a 4th-and-goal at the 2-yard line. At the end of the third it was the Knight defense again as Larry saw his pass get picked by Riverside’s linebacker Daniel Everett and taken 54 yards all the way to pay dirt.
Wisniewski’s pass to tight end Kyle Leggett for the two-point conversion knotted the game at 21 and it would remain that way into the 4th. Wisniewski ended the night with 53 yards passing and three interceptions.
Both squads had their chances in the final quarter, which saw four turnovers between the two teams. But it wasn’t until late that the Chargers put together the offensive drive they needed.
After a Wisniewski interception in the end zone, Ayden marched 80 yards on 5 plays capped off by a 30 yard Walker Stocks run. With 3:22 left in the game, the Knights had one more chance. The drive began with a completion to move the sticks, but two plays later defensive back, Malik Gordon, ended Riverside’s chances with an interception at midfield. The Charges then pounded out the clock on the ground for the final 2:06 of the game.
All was not lost in defeat for Knight’s coach Asim McGill who appreciated his defenses efforts tonight. He commented after the game, “Defense played a heck of a football game tonight, I’m proud of our efforts.” and went on to say, “…we’re just a couple plays away offensively from being there…we didn’t capitalize when we had the chance. We will get better.” Riverside looks forward to Edenton at home next week.