In the past three meetings between the Riverside City College football team and the Long Beach City College Vikings, the Tigers have reigned supreme at the end of each battle. Battle may not be a strong enough descriptor for when these two teams collide as seen in yet another back and forth affair that came down to the wire. The No. 16 Vikings took the top-ranked Tigers to the brink, but it was Riverside who had the final say in a 31-28 come-from-behind triumph.
Riverside found themselves staring down the barrel of a four-point deficit with under two minutes remaining in the game. The Tigers reamined poised and entered their two-minute drill offense with a pair of timeouts and went to work. Freshman quarterback Jacob Barlage, who stayed under center for the entire second half of the game, began to push the rock down field with help from a grip of receivers.
The biggest and most crucial connection of the game found the hands of freshman Rolandiss Whitener on a fourth and four to move the chains for a fresh set of downs. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Kennedy, who caught the first pass of the drive on a six-yard slant, drew a pass interference penalty from the Viking's cornerback two plays later to set the Tigers up with a first and 10 on Long Beach's 22-yard line.
Barlage continued to dice the Viking's secondary which was capped by a 13-yard touchdown reception by freshman Giovanni Sanders. Despite the ball being under thrown, Sanders reached behind the defender for a highlight reel grab to seal a 31-28 victory.
Riverside totaled all of their yardage through a lethal aerial attack. Of their 462 total yards, 408 came through the air. Long Beach was one-yard shy of matching Riverside's total yard accumulation. The Vikings were more unpredictable due to an evenly dispersed offensive strike (279 passing & 182 rushing).
A pair of wide receivers finished the game with double-digit snags and over 100 yards receiving. Sanders was outstanding as seen in 10 catches for 132 yards and the game-winning touchdown reception, while freshman Dylan Laurent matched his reception total going from 128 yards and a touchdown. It is the first time this season the Tigers have seen more than one player finish with over 100 yards and a touchdown.
The tandem quarterback situation was successful last week and continued to work despite the duo being responsible for three total interceptions – two coming in the red zone. Sophomore Mike Irwin was granted the start once again and went 21-for-33 with 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was replaced by Barlage in the second half who went 18-for-31 with 181 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.
The Tigers were bottled up for the majority of the second and third quarter as the Vikings outscored the Tigers 21-3 in that time period. However, the Tiger defense stepped up in the fourth quarter when it mattered to blank Long Beach. The defensive spark allowed the Riverside offense to make the winning push.
Sophomore linebacker Zechariah Holifield paced the defense with seven tackles – one of them going for a loss of three yards. Freshman defensive end Alex Navarro-Silva followed with six tackles, while freshman defensive lineman AJ Talafau matched his six tackles.
Freshman corner Rey Estes recorded the lone turnover for the Tigers with an interception late in the third quarter. He added three tackles and a break up as well.
Riverside (4-0) hits the road on Saturday, October 5 to take on the San Diego Mesa College Spartans at 6 p.m.