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Riverbend’s poor ball security allows Freedom to capitalize, roll to victory

Riverbend's poor ball security allows Freedom to capitalize, roll to victory

The Freedom (Woodbridge) High School coaching staff noticed something on film earlier this week when studying Riverbend’s season-opening win over Spotsylvania.

Head coach Darryl Overton said that despite the Knights not having a defender over the Bears’ center, Riverbend repeatedly had trouble operating clean snaps to quarterback Tanner Triplett.

Overton implored his team not to pounce on the ball in case the Bears fumbled, but to bat it backwards until someone was able to scoop and score.

That’s exactly what happened in the second quarter when senior linebacker Jibreel Al–Amin picked up a Riverbend fumble and sprinted 25 yards for a touchdown.

It was one of nine fumbles on the night for the Bears, who lost four of them and also turned the ball over with an interception, in a disheartening 41–7 defeat to the Woodbridge-based Eagles.

“You can’t turn the ball over against a team like this,” Riverbend head coach Nathan Yates said. “So we’ve definitely got to sure those up. We had some miscues with the snap in the kicking game. We put ourselves in a pretty big hole.”

Freedom (2–0) capitalized.

Senior quarterback Davis Bryson completed 18 of 26 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns, including two to sophomore wide receiver EJ Reid.

Freshman running back Jeff Overton rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

The Eagles scored 72 points in a season-opening blowout win over Brooke Point last week and were aided Friday night by the sloppiness of the Bears (1–1).

After Bryson’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Reid to open the scoring, Riverbend snapped the ball over the head of the punter on the ensuing possession and gave the Eagles the ball at its 5-yard line.

Three plays later, Jeff Overton scored from 1 yard out for a 14–0 advantage.

“I think that was a big momentum swing,” Darryl Overton said. “Those are points in the game when you’ve got to capitalize. I feel like our sense of urgency was in the right place.”

The Bears botched a punt on the next possession, as well, but the miscue resulted in a short kick that touched a Freedom player. Riverbend recovered and took over at the Freedom 44-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Aiden Fisher broke loose and scored from 35 yards away to trim the Eagles’ lead to 14–7.

That was as close as the Bears would get.

Al–Amin’s touchdown gave the Eagles a 21–7 advantage and Bryson connected with Reid from 52 yards away 4:53 before intermission.

Riverbend trailed 28–7 at halftime and never threatened in the second half.

Freedom was able to overcome 100 yards of penalties in the first half because of its big-play capability.

“Everybody on our team is an athlete,” Bryson said. “Everybody works hard in practice. All our guys can make a big play.”

Freedom will visit defending Class 5 state champion Stone Bridge next Friday. Riverbend is scheduled to visit Courtland the same night.

“I’m proud of the way our kids fought the whole game,” Yates said. “They didn’t hang their heads. They didn’t give up. They played much better in the second half. We can build off that. We’ve just got to go to the film, fix our mistakes and get better.”

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