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Riverdale rolls over Ida Baker, 35-0

September 22, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Steady rains, rough field conditions and a lightning delay just before kickoff made for an interesting first half of football at Ida Baker High School as the Bulldogs took on undefeated Riverdale Friday night.

Riverdale stepped on the throttle as the second half opened and ran away to a 35-0 victory to remain undefeated, having only an 8-0 lead after the first 24 minutes of play.

Special teams were a big factor in this game, as Riverdale returned two punts for touchdowns, and would have had three if not for an illegal block call that negated the score.

"Well, our special teams, you know, the punt team especially, just got to us," Ida Baker head coach Todd Nichols said of what changed in the second half. "Our offense is not high-powered right now, we fall behind a lot you know, so, big plays will haunt us all year and we have to continue to focus on those things and get better at those things, and if we control those, we're going to be in the game. Our kids are fighting, I'm proud of them, they're getting better every week."

Each team's first possession included muffed snaps and bad QB-RB exchanges, as heavy rains poured down in Cape Coral.

Though each offense had issues on their inaugural drives, it didn't take long for Riverdale's special teams to make their first big play of the night.

Raider's junior Roy Alexander took an Ida Baker punt 76 yards to the house, flashing down the right sideline, to open the scoring for Riverdale in week 5.

Ida Baker blocked the point-after attempt, giving the Raiders a 6-0 edge early into the first quarter.

No scoring was to be had until the end of the first half, as the slick football was clearly an issue for both squads, resulting in more fumbles, a muffed snap on a field goal attempt by Ida Baker, stagnant run games, the previously mentioned punt return for a touchdown called back and one interception.

That interception though, would lead to a score just before the break.

Ida Baker senior Hunter Iverson picked off Riverdale's Dylan Ulmer at the 3-yard as the Raiders were threatening to add to their advantage.

The Bulldog offense had not done much up until this point and had their backs against their own end zone with a furious Riverdale pass rush that had been in senior QB Evan Hubbard's kitchen all night.

An incomplete pass on first down from Hubbard led to two straight rush attempts by junior RB Vitico Mieses, the second of which he found himself in his own end zone, for a safety.

Riverdale took an 8-0 lead, holding Ida Baker to just 25 yards of total offense in the first half.

Coach Nichols made no excuses for his teams play despite the unfriendly conditions, "We're used to this weather you know, it's Southwest Florida and we all play in it. We're both playing in it so it doesn't really matter. We focus on those things. We've had some poor turnouts earlier in the year from those, and we learn from them, and we just know it's going to happen and we know how to handle it now."

It didn't take Riverdale long to turn it up in the second half, as the Raiders took only three plays to cover 47 yards, as Robinson gashed the Bulldog defense for a 42-yard touchdown run up the middle, after an Ida Baker three-and-out to start the third quarter.

Samuel Ballinger knocked through the PAT, giving Riverdale a 15-0 edge.

On the ensuing possession, Ida Baker was stumped again, having to punt it to the dangerous Raiders return core.

This time, it was junior Jaylin Cochran who brought back a punt to the house for 62 yards, burning the Bulldogs' coverage team up the left sideline with 6:10 to go in the third.

The extra point was once again good, Riverdale extending its lead to 22-0.

Ida Baker showed signs of life, putting together its best drive of the contest following the dazzling punt return.

The Bulldogs marched 63 yards down field and had the ball on the Raiders' 2-yard line with first and goal to go.

Just as it seemed like the home team going was to get on the scoreboard, the Raiders D-line wreaked havoc in the Ida Baker backfield, stringing together four straight sacks of Hubbard to take over on downs.

"Riverdale does a good job on defense," Nichols said. "If you look at their scores, they haven't given up a lot of points, and they run a pressure defense that will confuse you a little bit and bring guys from different angles. So, when you get down to that area, it gets tough. You try to run the ball or throw it, it's a 50/50 guess either way."

Riverdale took over on its own 9-yard line, eventually covering all 91 yards, scoring another touchdown on a 2-yard dive quarterback keeper by sophomore Da'Reous Bell, highlighted by a 67-yard run from Bell as well.

The point after banged off the left upright, but Riverdale led 28-0 early in the fouth.

Another Bulldog punt moments later gave Riverdale great field position that once again they cashed in on.

This time it was Cochran finding the end zone, accounting for 41 yards of the 46-yard drive, including a 37-yard run.

It was 35-0 Riverdale after a successful point after attempt.

One last drive saw Ida Baker almost get on the board, but fell short due to a running clock.

Senior fullback John Pascale had some impressive carries on the drive.

Despite the loss, now bringing Ida Baker to 1-4, some positives can be taken from the game, as each is a learning experience, especially against an impressive and undefeated Riverdale.

Hubbard, who was pressured relentlessly all four quarters, showed poise and play-making ability, even returning from what seemed to be a painful ankle injury.

Some jeers in the crowd went his way, as they felt he might have held onto the ball for too long, taking 5 sacks.

"He's done a good job. He's really come along from where he was a year ago and he gets better every day, and he's fighting, and that's all we can ask from that young man," Nichols said of his quarterback. "We're proud of him, we're going to stay with him, and coach him up, and make him a better football player."

RIVERDALE6 2 14 13 -- 0

IDA BAKER 0 0 0 0 -- 0

1st Quarter:

Riverdale - Roy Alexander, 76-yard punt return (failed PAT), 8:11

2nd Quarter:

Riverdale - Vitico Mieses, safety, 0:12.4

3rd Quarter:

Riverdale - Adarian Robinson, 42-yard run (Ballinger kick), 8:10

Riverdale - Jaylin Cochran, 62-yard punt return (Ballinger kick), 6:10

4th Quarter:

Riverdale - Da'Reous Bell, 2-yard run (failed PAT), 11:09

Riverdale - Cochran, 4-yard run (Ballinger kick good), 7:17

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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