Final seconds crush hopes of Riverside

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009



What looked to be shaping up as a sensational comeback turned to heartbreaking defeat for Riverside on Friday night.

The Rebels lost a fumble with 13 seconds left in their game with North Vermilion, allowing the Patriots to escape with a 13-12 victory on a rainy night in Reserve.

Riverside trailed by that score for most of the second half, but finally found its groove on its final drive of the game. With 2:41 left, Riverside quarterback Darnell Rachal led a Rebel drive from his team’s own 30 to the North Vermilion 9, highlighted by a 25-yard pass from he to Austin Vicknair that set the Rebels up at the North Vermilion 9 with time ticking down.

But a fumble on the next snap – presumably one the Rebels would have spiked the ball on – went North Vermilion’s way.

“We thought the ref blew the whistle,” said Rachal. “I pulled out from under the center. I looked over, and he had snapped the ball. We thought it was a dead ball.”

Said Riverside coach Mickey Roussel: “We shouldn’t have even been in that situation. We made far too many mistakes.”

Riverside led 12-0 at one point in the first half, but the Patriots scored once in the first half and once in the second to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie before Riverside got on the scoreboard after a 56-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Rachal ran for gains of 13 and 17, and a North Vermilion late hit left the Rebels on the Patriot. After a short gain on a run, Rachal threw a flare pass to Lloyd Johnson on the next play for a 9-yard touchdown with 9:15 left in the first half. The extra point kick was no good, and the Rebels led 6-0.

North Vermilion’s next drive lasted only one play, as Rebels cornerback Bryan Abadie recovered a Patriot fumble at the North Vermilion 42.

Working on a short field, the Rebels dialed up a trick play – a halfback pass from Dylan Martin to Vicknair for a 26-yard gain to the Patriot 11. Five plays later, Vicknair cashed in, catching a third down pass on a slant for a 10-yard touchdown with 5:00 left in the half to make it 12-0.

North Vermilion answered right before halftime, driving 55 yards to make it 12-7 with 1:05 remaining on a 6-yard touchdown run by Patriots quarterback Jared Broussard.

An interception by North Vermilion’a Trey Price kept the momentum going in the Patriot’s direction at the 9:19 mark of the third quarter – he’d return the pick from the NV 42 to the Riverside 28. Broussard and running back Ty Desormeaux took turns carrying the ball before Broussard finally scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, on almost exactly the same play as the first – a keeper sweep to the outside.

That put North Vermilion ahead 13-12 with 6:41 left in the third quarter.

“We allowed that score right before half, then they return a kick to midfield after halftime,” said Roussel. “Then the turnover…we let them get the momentum before half and keep it going in the second. You can’t do that.”

Penalties helped to stall each of Riverside’s next two drives, but the most costly infraction came on special teams. With 5:02 left in the game, and North Vermilion facing fourth-and-18, the Rebels were called for roughing the punter.

A time consuming Patriot drive was extended even longer – Riverside would eventually begin its final drive with 2:41 left.

Rachal sparked a potential comeback on third-and-seven from his own 35 with a 20-yard scramble. He’d later pick up another first down with a 9-yard run on a third-and-two.

Finally, on third-and-14 from the NV 34, he lofted a high pass to Vicknair, who hauled it in at the 9-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining.

But at the 13-second mark, the Rebels met a cruel fate.

“We had at least two shots to score, and a field goal wins it,” said Roussel.

“It was just one more mistake for us. And it was costly.”