Riverside’s football team bottled up New Bremen’s offense during the first quarter Friday night. But the Pirates could not keep pace with the balanced Cardinals over the final three quarters.
Following a scoreless opening period, New Bremen put up 28 second-quarter points and went on to a 39-8 victory over the host Pirates in a Division VII regional quarterfinal.
“That was a great start by our defense,” said Riverside head coach Bryce Hodge, who saw his squad force New Bremen into a turnover and two punt on its first three possessions. “Then they hit a couple of pass plays and got us on our heels a little. We just didn’t execute very well after that first quarter. Against a team like that, you have to execute for four quarters.”
The Cardinals finished with 462 yards of offense while limiting the Pirates to 109 yards.
“Our offense seemed a little stuck to start the game, and give credit to Coach Hodge and his players,” said New Bremen head coach Chris Schmidt. “They did a good job early on stopping our running game. After those first couple series, we decided to go a little more up-tempo and we hit a couple of pass plays, and that loosened things up a little bit.”
The first quarter was all about punting and defense as neither offense could get anything going.
Riverside turned the ball over on downs at the New Bremen 25-yard line early in the second quarter.
The Cardinals countered with a six-play scoring drive that was capped by a 38-yard touchdown run by Hunter Schaefer. The extra point made it a 7-0 lead for the visitors with 10:16 left in the first half.
Riverside was forced to punt on its ensuing series and the Cardinals took over at their own 35.
New Bremen put together another quick scoring drive, this one coming in five plays. Quarterback David Homan scored on an 8-yard run to give the Cardinals a 14-0 lead at the 6:08 mark of the second quarter.
Following a three-and-out by the Pirates, New Bremen found the end zone in just two plays, with Homan finding Grant Dicke for a 43-yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 21-0.
The Cardinals tacked on another TD before halftime as Homan scored on a 19-yard keeper. That made it 28-0 with 1:08 remaining in the second period.
“I thought that touchdown at the end of the first half was really big,” said Schmidt. “We knew we were getting the ball to start the second half, so we wanted to score there and keep the momentum going into halftime.”
On their first possession of the second half, the Cardinals used a 27-yard field goal by Schaefer to take a 31-0 lead at the 9:39 mark of the third quarter.
The Pirates then mounted an impressive scoring drive for their lone TD of the night.
They marched 80 yards in 13 plays, with Myles Platfoot throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Nate Copas on a fourth-and-three play from the 4-yard line. Platfoot then threw a conversion pass to Landon Purtee to make the score 31-8 with 57 seconds remaining in the third.
“I was really proud of the guys for putting together that touchdown drive,” said Hodge. “That showed a lot of heart. We came up with a big fourth-down play to finish in on a play we had not run all year.”
New Bremen had a quick answer, though. On the first play of its ensuing possession, Schaefer got loose for a 60-yard TD run to cap the scoring.
Riverside tallied 48 rushing yards and 61 passing yards on the night.
Platfoot ran for 27 yards and Warren Shockey had 21 yards.
Dominik Stotler had an interception to lead the Riverside defense. He also had five tackles. Simon Godwin recorded six tackles with one for loss and Skyler Hudson had five tackles with one for loss.
The Pirates finish the season with a record of 8-4. After an 0-2 start, they won seven of their last eight regular-season games and then added a playoff win over Lehman Catholic last week.
“I am extremely proud of the way our guys fought back after the way we started,” said Hodge. “It’s going to be tough to say good bye to these seniors. I absolutely love those guys. They were freshmen my first year and we went 5-5 that year. They got in the weight room and bought in, and were great leaders for our program. I am going to miss them dearly.”
New Bremen (9-3) advances to play Ansonia in a regional semifinal game next Saturday.