CANTON — A season for the history books is still underway for River Ridge.
The Knights continued the best start to a season in program history last Friday night by defeating Creekview 20-17 in overtime at the Grizzly Den.
Following a Creekview field goal on its opening possession of overtime, River Ridge’s Amehre Morrison ran the ball in from 5 yards out to give the Knights a walk-off victory and their first win over the Grizzlies.
River Ridge (6-0, 3-0) celebrated in jubilation following the final play, and its fans were waiting outside the locker room immediately after the game to congratulate the players and coaches on a hard-fought, come-from-behind win.
“I just wish I could find some words to articulate my feelings for this team. There are just no words,” River Ridge coach Mike Collins said. “I’m just glad to be a part of it. Their toughness, their love for one another, their ability to keep fighting until the very end — it’s unbelievable to me.”
The win kept River Ridge atop the race for the Region 7AAAAAA championship with Johns Creek, the only other team without a region loss. The Knights will host winless Centennial next week.
River Ridge trailed for nearly the entirety of the game, but it made the plays in the fourth quarter necessary to complete the comeback.
Trailing 14-6 with 5 minutes remaining, the Knights marched down the field and scored on Morrison’s 14-yard scamper with 3 minutes left. It completed an impressive drive highlighted by multiple fourth-down conversions.
River Ridge tied the game moments later when Riley Caines connected with Micah Martineau on a wide receiver reverse pass for the 2-point conversion.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but we came out in the second half and made almost no mistakes,” River Ridge center Cam Cochran said. “That’s a great ball team we just beat. We came in knowing it would be a dog-fight, and to finish it at the end like that feels great.”
Both teams had possession following the late score in the fourth quarter, but time ran out and the game went into overtime.
Creekview (4-2, 2-1) seemed in control nearly the entire game.
After a scoreless first quarter, Tyler Stevens’ 2-yard touchdown run gave the Grizzlies a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. Their defense was also as impressive as advertised, holding the talented River Ridge offense to under 100 yards of offense in the first half.
The only scoring for River Ridge came on two field goals from Scotty Rutherford — from 37 and 21 yards — and Creekview led 7-6 at the half.
“Creekview is a very good football team, and it was a physical game,” Collins said. “We just kept believing, kept trying to stay in the fight.”
The game seemed to take a turn late in the third quarter when Creekview quarterback Brody Rhodes escaped down the sideline for a 40-yard rushing touchdown. The score gave Creekview a 14-6 lead, which it held entering the fourth quarter.
Rhodes finished with a game-high 94 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Creekview outgained River Ridge 223-184, but it turned the ball over three times, compared to one turnover by the Knights.
River Ridge quarterback Carson Lathem found his rhythm in the fourth quarter, completing 10 of 17 passes for 113 yards in the period. He completed multiple fourth-down passes to extend drives, with Caines and Andrew Bingham both making important catches down the stretch.
It was fitting that Morrison, who finished with 104 total yards — 62 rushing and 42 receiving — was the one to end the game on the final play.
“For me, this a region win, but I know, for this community, it’s different,” Collins said. “I understand that, and I’m just happy for our community to get to experience this and enjoy this.”
Creekview will host Riverwood next week.