Riverside stops WSJ, 13-8

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009


West St. John coach Robert Valdez shook his head in disgust and disappointment after his team’s 13-8 loss to Riverside at Friday night’s River Parishes Jamboree at Joe Keller Stadium.

“I’d rather lose a game by a mile than fall short by an inch,” Valdez said.

But falling just short is exactly what happened for Valdez and his Rams. After driving 94-yards in a little over five minutes, West St. John ran out of time when Riverside stopped Blake Carter short of the goalline on a second-and-one as the scoreboard clock hit zero.

It was an inspiring performance by the Rebel defense which, despite giving up a touchdown and two long drives, mustered the energy to stop the Rams three times from the 1-yard line in the game’s waning seconds — including twice after a facemask penalty gave WSJ a stopped clock and new life.

“We needed to get a big ol’ stop,” said Riverside’s Darnell Rachal. “Our defense really stepped up in the last seconds.”

“Said Riverside coach Mickey Roussel: “I didn’t like the first 14 minutes and 50 seconds of the second half. But I liked the last 10 seconds. It shows what we’re capable of, to stop three plays at the 1-yard line to win a game. I’m glad that happened. Our defense was tired, but it held up.”

It was truly a game of two halves. The second — save for, as Roussel said, the last 10 seconds — belonged to West St. John. The first was dominated by Riverside.

The Rebels put the first points of the night on the board at the 4:16 mark of the first half, when quarterback Darnell Rachal capped a four-play, 21-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, making it 6-0 after a missed extra point try. The drive was set up when the Rebel defense recovered a Ram fumble

West St. John’s next drive ended in no better fashion. A botched handoff on a reverse was recovered by the Rebels, who were set up to begin on the Ram 21 for the second straight drive. This time, it took three plays for Rachal to score on a 4-yard run, making it 13-0 with 17 seconds left in the first half.

“It shows that we have a long way to go. Turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes — that’s discipline,” said Valdez.

The Rams came out in the second half with renewed vigor, however. Quarterback Dray Joseph worked the short passing game well as WSJ moved from its own 16 to the Riverside 25. He’d convert back-to-back completions of 13 and 12 yards to cap the drive, the latter a touchdown reception by Jarius Moll. The Rams converted the two-point conversion when Joseph found Kenneth Dabney alone in the back of the endzone.

Riverside drove to its own 47 on its next possession, but was forced to punt. The Rebel coverage team pinned WSJ at its own 5 with 5:30 left.

Joseph completed passesof 11, 16, 14, 13 and 29 yards and ran for another 31 to bring his team within a yard of victory.

But in this case, it wasn’t to be.

“I won’t sleep tonight,” said Valdez. “I’m not happy. Not at all.”