PORT BYRON — The Morrison football team was able to come back in the second half, and hold off Riverdale on Friday evening, putting a dent in the Rams' homecoming weekend.
In the Three Rivers Rock opener, the Mustangs scored two touchdowns in the second half to topple hosting Riverdale, 16-3.
Morrison, which is receiving votes outside of the Top 10 in the Class 1A state rankings, also kept its record spotless at 3-0. Riverdale fell to 1-2.
“I’ve got to hand it to Riverdale and Coach (Guy) Dierikx, they played hard for four quarters and gave us all we could handle,” said Morrison coach Ryan Oetting. “Especially on the defensive side of the ball, they eliminated our passing game and came up with some big stops, particularly in the first half.”
The only score before intermission came early in the second quarter when Riverdale’s Easton Day booted a 34-yard field goal to put the Rams up 3-0.
Riverdale squandered an excellent scoring opportunity deep in Morrison territory with under a minute left in the half.
“Our guys played hard and showed a great deal of intensity and resiliency; we simply could not capitalize on a couple of opportunities when we needed to,” said Dierikx. “Morrison has been pretty much scoring at will in the early part of the season, so I’m happy with our defensive effort, led by Bryan Caves and the guys on the line.”
Caves, the junior all-conference linebacker for the Rams, contributed several timely tackles and defensive stops for Riverdale, and also caught two passes from quarterback Bryce Ditto for 16 yards.
The Mustangs finally scored with four minutes gone in the third quarter, on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Helms to T.C.Ottens. Morrison added the 2-point conversion on a run by Nathan Mickley to grab the lead at 8-3.
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“We had kind of a fire and brimstone conversation at halftime, and our guys responded well,” said Oetting. “Too many penalties on mental errors that we needed to correct, and once we were able to move the line of scrimmage, our offense was able to produce.”
Morrison added the final score early in the fourth quarter when Nick Allen scampered into the end-zone from the 3-yard line. The Mustangs again were able to connect on the 2-pointer when Riley Wilkens powered in.
“Games like this help us to determine the areas where we need improvement going into the weeks ahead, and also allow us to focus some positive attention on the adjustments we made to come back in the second half,” said Oetting.
Riverdale’s Dierikx remained focused on his long-term goal.
“Our program is working hard to build on the people who came before us and establish a productive culture, and being able to play a good team like Morrison as tough as we did will help us as the season progresses."
Morrison was led by Hunter Newman with 70 yards on 10 rushes, Keegan Anderson added 50 yards on seven totes.
Riverdale was led by Colten Reiman with 14 carries for 70 yards.
Morrison hosts Fulton next Friday in the Wooden Shoe Bowl, and Riverdale travels to Rockridge.