Rachal accounts for five touchdowns as Riverside clinches playoff berth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Sports Editor

Riverside Coach Tim Taffi says he has waited for all season for his Rebels to play a complete football game.

On Friday night, his team did just that — when it needed to the most.

Riverside excelled in all facets of the game, defeating host and district foe Fisher 52-15, in the process earning a playoff berth.

“We knew this was essentially a playoff game for us,” Taffi said. “If we don’t win, the season’s over. So we just started the playoffs a week early.”

For the third consecutive week, Riverside (4-5, 1-3) utilized the shotgun and spread the field on offense. The Rebels rolled up 410 total yards, by far its best output of the season.

“They played us straight man to man, almost daring us to throw the football. We took advantage of the one-on-one matchups that presented,” Taffi said. “We’ve been running the spread since the Newman game, and I think our guys are gaining more confidence in it.”

More importantly to Taffi, it came in conjunction with Riverside’s best defensive effort in over a month. The Rebels held the Gators (4-5, 0-4) to 117 yards of total offense, including negative nine yards rushing.

For a unit that had struggled greatly defending the run recently, it couldn’t come at a better time.

“We played them very physically up front. We handled their running back pretty well, and their quarterback was a big concern coming in. But we held those two pretty much in check.”

Riverside rushed for 267 yards, led by Thomas Crouch, who ran 13 times for 170 yards. Darnell Rachal had a big night, completing 6-of-7 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns while adding 52 rushing yards and two scores on 10 carries.

Rachel put the Rebels on the board first with a 1-yard touchdown run, netting Riverside a 7-0 first quarter lead. Fisher answered when Andrew Bailey connected with Christian Bouligny for a 38-yard touchdown pass to tie the game after one.

The second quarter was all about the Rebels. Rachal capped a six play, 78-yard drive with a 6-yard score to make it 14-7. It only took Riverside two plays to score its next touchdown, when Rachal found Bobby Smith through the air for a 30-yard strike. Rachal capped a four play, 56-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown to Remi Poirrier to make it 28-7, and Rachal’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Crouch capped a 9-play, 71-yard drive, giving Riverside a 34-7 halftime lead.

Crouch and Roussel each added touchdown runs in the second half. The Rebel defense forced a safety, and in all, forced four Fisher turnovers.

It all added up to Riverside’s first district win — and a trip to the playoffs.

“We finally put it all together,” Taffi said. “We played a complete football game. It took us eight weeks, but we did it.”