NEW MATAMORAS - Jordan Sapp ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns to lead the visiting River Pilots to a 28-7 win over the Frontier Cougars in the Pioneer Valley Conference finale for both teams.
Sapp scored a pair of second quarter touchdowns and then answered the Cougars lone score of the night with his third touchdown in the final period to key the Pilots to their fourth victory in their last five games.
"They kind of gained some momentum there in the second quarter and that forced us to try and play catch up the rest of the way," said Cougar head coach Todd Bradford. "Once they got ahead they weren't going to let it go."
Photo courtesy of Katie Parks
Frontier running back Dylan Absher (1) looks for a hole against River during Pioneer Valley Conference football action Friday night.
Both teams were able to move the ball in the opening quarter but neither managed to get on the scoreboard.
After forcing the Pilots to punt on their opening possession the Cougars drove the ball deep into River territory before quarterback Mitch Reynold's pass was intercepted by Cole Isaly.
Frontier moved the ball back into River territory on its next possession and after the drive stalled at the Pilot 35-yard line, Rodney Barnes delivered a perfect punt inside the five-yard line.
RIVER 28 FRONTIER 7
River 0 14 7 7 - 28
Frontier 0 0 0 7 - 7
R: Jordan Sapp 4 yd. run (Colton Wright) 4:12
R: Sapp 24 yd. run (Wright kick) :15.9
R: Bryce Cross 9yd. run (Wright kick)
F: Rodney Barnes 2 yd. run (Garret Buegel kick) 11:42
R: Sapp 6 yd. run (Wright kick) 8:47
First downs: 14, Rushes-yards: 47-200, Passing yards: 27, Total yards: 227, Penalties-yards: 4-25, Punts-avg: 7-34.0, Fumbles-lost: 2-1, Turnovers: 1.
First downs: 11, Rushes-yards: 28-73, Passing yards: 148, Total yards: 221, Penalties-yards: 5-55, Punts-avg: 4-27.7, Fumbles-lost:1-1, Turnovers:4.
River: Rushing: Sapp 23-143, Cross 16-70, Dakota Dunn 1-5, Brandon Reusser 2-2, Brett Rosen 1-0, Joe Flannery 4-(-20). Passing: Flannery 2-5, 27yds, Receiving: Cross 2-27.
Frontier: Rushing: Barnes 15-73, Donovan Boley 3-4, Dylan Absher 1-3Dakota Welker 1-2, Mitch Reynolds 8-(-9), Passing: Reynolds 15-38 148, 3INT, Receiving: Nick Camino 4-48, Barnes 4-44, Damon Metheney 3-33, Absher 4-23.
The Pilots managed to move the ball out to the 23-yard line but an errant snap on third and six forced them to punt from out of their own end zone.
The Cougars took over with great field position at the Pilot 43-yard line, but Barnes fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and the Pilots recovered to gain good field position of their own.
"We were within striking distance it seemed like the whole time but we just had a few errors on our part," said Bradford, whose team committed four turnovers in the game. "Too many mental errors and too many turnovers just did us in."
This time the Pilots would make the Cougars pay for their mistake as they put together a 57-yard, six-play drive with Sapp scoring from four yards out to make it a 7-0 game.
The River defense rose to the occasion as it forced the Cougars to go three-and-out to give them the ball back near midfield with just over two minutes to play in the half.
An 11-yard run by Sapp and a nine-yard jaunt by Bryce Cross moved the ball into Cougar territory with 40 seconds left on the clock.
Sapp took care of things from there as the senior rambled first for 17 yards and then for 24 more and a touchdown to send the Pilots to intermission with a 14-0 lead.
River extended its lead to 21-0 in the third quarter when Cross capped a four-play, 35-yard drive with a nine yard touchdown run.
The Cougars answered with their best drive of the game as they marched 77-yards in just over five minutes with Barnes scoring from two-yards out to make it a two possession game just into the final quarter of play.
Any hopes of a Cougar comeback however were quickly dashed as Sapp accounted for 44 yards of a 68-yard Pilot scoring drive finished off by a six-yard touchdown run to increase the lead once again to 21 at 28-7.
Frontier would spend the rest of the game unsuccessfully trying to reach the end zone to no avail as it dropped its fourth game in its last five decisions.
Sapp carried the ball 23 times for his game-high 143 yards while Cross chipped in with 70 yards on 16 carries.
Barnes led the Cougars in rushing with 73 yards on 15 touches, while Reynolds put the ball in the air 38 times, completing 15 for 148 yards.
Nick Camino caught four of those passes for 48 yards, while Barnes, Damon Metheney, and Dylan Absher had at least three catches apiece for Frontier.
Both teams finished with identical 4-6 records for the season with River finishing 2-4 in conference play with the Cougars dropping five of six decisions in the PVC.
The game marked the final appearance for Frontier seniors' Absher, Garrett Buegel, Dakota Welker, Mitch Minder, Phillip Ellis and Austin Kimble.
"They are small in numbers but big in heart," said Bradford about his senior class.
"I appreciate their work and I appreciate their leadership. They were a lot of fun and I was a lucky man to say that I was there coach."