A last-second goal line stand on a 2-point conversion helped Riverside Military Academy stun Class A No. 6-ranked Commerce 20-19 Friday in a crucial Region 8-A North battle at Tiger Stadium.
The Eagles (5-4, 3-1 Region 8-A North) moved into a first-place tie in the subregion with Commerce and Hebron Christian with the victory and now all three will have to wait until the tiebreakers are sorted out.
The subregion winner will get to take on Class A No. 1-ranked Athens Academy for the outright region title and an automatic berth into the playoffs.
Riverside coach Nick Garrett said it was a huge showing coming off last week’s disappointing loss to Hebron at home. “Probably no one gave us a chance after last week. But these kids believed in themselves and played a tremendous game,” Garrett said. “This is a huge momentum swing for the program. To bounce back like this. I’m just so proud of the guys right now.”
Riverside took an initial 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown run from Stephen Aleandre in the first quarter. The Tigers (8-1, 3-1) answered later in the period on a 19-yard scoring run from Nate Ray to tie the game. Commerce took its only lead early in the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run from Dajuan Wood. But a missed extra point made it 13-7. The Eagles then responded when Isaac Teasley connected with Khalid Duke on a 50-yard pass to the Commerce 4 and then Teasley scored on a 2-yard run two plas later. But Commerce blocked the Eagles PAT and the game went to halftime tied at 13. The Eagles stormed out of the intermission with a 61-yard, 7-play drive that was capped by a 6-yard TD pass from Teasley to Jordan Battle for a 20-13 lead.
The defenses took control from there until the Tigers scored with just 37 seconds left on a 1-yard run from Wood to pull within 20-19. But a 2-point conversion run for the win was denied by the Eagles defense to preserve the win.
Riverside came into the contest sitting in the 25th spot in the Class A Private rankings. They are sure to move up after one of the biggest upsets in the classification in 2018. The Eagles have not advanced to the playoffs since the 2009 season. “It’s just huge for us. I feel very confident that this will shoot us up the rankings and into the playoffs,” Garrett said.
Riverside finished with 169 yards passing from Teasley and got 80 yards on the ground.