BIDWELL, Ohio — They have the momentum and they just keep rolling.
The River Valley football team picked up its third straight win and posted a season-high 507 yards of offense, on Friday night in Gallia County, as the Raiders rolled to a 41-6 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division guest Vinton County.
RVHS (6-2, 3-2 TVC Ohio) scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the game, as Jaykob Mabe capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard run and Dylan Brown finished off a 10-play, 60-yard series with a one-yard run. Devin McDonald was 2-for-2 on first quarter extra-point kicks, giving the Raiders a 14-0 lead.
The Raiders punted on their third drive, but two plays later, Dustin Barber intercepted a Vinton County (3-5, 2-2) pass at the RVHS 18. The Silver and Black made it down to the VCHS one-yard line in nine plays, but were backed up to the six on a false start. After gaining three yards, the Raiders were forced to settle for a field goal, which McDonald kicked between the uprights from 21 yards out.
River Valley found paydirt again on its next drive, as Patrick Brown completed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tre Craycraft, capping off the a five-play, 65-yard drive that lasted 2:04. McDonald made the point after kick to give the hosts 24-0 lead, with 2:36 left in the half.
The Vikings finally got on the scoreboard on the ensuing drive, as quarterback Naylen Yates broke a 53-yard run for six points. The two-point attempt was stuffed by RVHS, and the Raiders led 24-6 with 1:28 left in the half.
River Valley was intercepted on its next drive, but Raiders’ senior Jacob Dovenbarger recovered a Viking fumble to give the hosts one more shot before halftime. The RVHS offense took advantage, as the very next play was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Brown to Layne Fitch. McDonald made the point-after kick and the Raiders headed into the locker room ahead 31-6.
After forcing Vinton County into a three-and-out to start the second half, RVHS took over at midfield. The Raiders made it inside the VCHS five-yard line, before fumbling the ball back to the Vikings.
A 43-yard run by Hunter Nichols put the ball back at midfield, but the Vikings only managed 19 more yards before losing possession on downs.
River Valley marched 69 yards in eight plays and 3:42, with Barber catching a 15-yard TD pass from Patrick Brown to cap off the drive. McDonald made the point-after kick and the Raiders led 38-6 with one quarter to play.
Per OHSAA rule, the fourth quarter had a continually running clock. The Raiders scored on their only fourth quarter drive, as freshman Colton Gilmore made a 40-yard field goal. The kick is the longest successful field goal in RVHS history — breaking McDonald’s two-year old mark of 37 yards —and it put the final touches of the Raiders’ 41-6 victory.
“If I could bottle this, I’d save it and make a lot of money,” sixth-year RVHS head coach Jerrod Sparling said. “The truth is, ever since the second half against Meigs, we’ve played really, really good football. We haven’t changed anything scheme-wise, our kids have just jelled together and played tremendous football.”
In the last 14 quarters — starting with the second half of the Raiders’ four-point loss at Meigs — River Valley has outscored opponents 139-to-25.
“We just got back to fundamentals,” Sparling said of his team’s defense. “(Naylen) Yates is really, really explosive and he got one on us, but we’re playing good fundamental football. We’ve played good defense the last couple of years around here and I think we have a really solid base.”
The Raiders held a 25-to-10 advantage in first downs in the game, and outgained the Vikings 507-to-241, including 204-to-175 on the ground. Both teams committed two turnovers in the game, both losing 1-of-2 fumbles while tossing an interception. The Raiders were penalized 13 times for a total of 90 yards, while VCHS drew seven flags — all before halftime — for 41 yards.
RVHS junior Patrick Brown — who rushed 14 times for a total 54 yards — completed 18-of-23 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. This marks the third time this season Patrick Brown has thrown for at least 300 yards and three scores.
Craycraft — who ran five times for a total of 22 yards — led all receivers with 10 receptions for 189 yards and one TD. Fitch ran three times for 23 yards and caught three passes for 43 yards and one touchdown, while Barber and Jarret McCarley each caught two passes for 23 yards, with Barber catching a touchdown.
Jacob Campbell — who hauled in one pass for 25 yards — led the Silver and Black rushing attack with 59 yards on eight carries. Gabe Stapleton marked 27 yards on three carries, Cole Young added nine yards on four tries, while Jordan Burns rushed once for six yards. Mabe ran twice for five yards and one TD, while Dylan Brown had one one-yard touchdown run.
Campbell also came up with two sacks to lead the RVHS defense, while Ty VanSickle marked one sack, Dovenbarger had a fumble recovery and Barber intercepted a pass.
Naylen Yates — who completed 8-of-20 passes for 66 yards — led the Vikings on the ground with 89 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Nichols had 51 yards on three rushes, while hauling in three passes for 19 yards. Nevin Yates rushed 11 times for a total of 28 yards, Logan Ward added five yards on three tries, while Jacob Wells had one two-yard run.
Jayden Spires led Vinton County’s receivers with 20 yards on three receptions. Derek Stevens and Lincoln Hayes each caught one pass, gaining 25 and two yards respectively.
The VCHS defensive leaders were Spires with an interception, and Antonio Mendes with a fumble recovery.
Next, the Raiders will visit Athens, which is currently 6-2 and one of two teams with an unblemished league record.
“We know everything that Athens is about and it’s going to be a tough one,” Sparling said. “They run a very, very good program, they have depth and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Vinton County will face the other TVC Ohio leader next week, as the Vikings host 6-2 Nelsonville-York.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.