WOODSTOCK - River Ridge will have to wait another year to earn its first win over Sequoyah.
Helped by an early explosive play on defense and a late goal-line stand, Sequoyah went on the road to defeat River Ridge 13-0 on Friday night.
The game was a field position battle which saw both teams with opportunities to capitalize on the opponents’ mistakes, but it was the Chiefs who made the most of their chances.
“It was a tough win,” Sequoyah senior Myles McGee said. “They were definitely a harder team to beat this year. I respect them 100 percent. They grinded tonight, and they have a good team.”
It looked early on as if River Ridge (2-5, 1-4 Region 6AAAAAA) would have luck on its side.
Sequoyah (3-3, 2-2) fumbled on its opening possession -- one of three lost fumbles for the Chiefs in the game -- and the Knights took over at midfield. After both teams exchanged punts, Sequoyah once again fumbled, with the Knights recovering again, this time on the the Chiefs' 27-yard line.
The game’s most explosive play occurred a few plays later.
After taking over on offense, River Ridge quarterback Chase Begin connected with Aidan Ali for a long completion, which would have put the Knights inside the 25-yard line had it not been for Sequyoah’s Jaden Mitchell, who stripped Ali after the catch and took the fumble back more than 70 yards for the game’s opening score.
The extra point was missed and Sequoyah led 6-0 midway through the second quarter.
“The corner had him wrapped up, so I took the opportunity to rip the ball out and take it down the sideline for the score,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, the Chiefs' primary running back, said scoring on defense is a little different than on offense.
“It’s so much more electric (to score) on defense,” he said. “Everybody in the stands loves it. On offense, you’re supposed to score, but the defense doesn’t go out there and score touchdowns very often.”
The score remained 6-0 through halftime and into the third quarter before River Ridge pinned Sequoyah deep inside its own 5-yard line. The Chiefs then suffered their third fumble of the game, which set up the Knights with a first-and-goal on the 6. Multiple Sequoyah penalties gave River Ridge five opportunities to score, but a fourth-down pass from Begin to running back Amehre Morrison fell short, and River Ridge came away with no points.
“It was basically two fourth-down stands for our defense,” Sequoyah coach James Teter said. “Our defense played well the whole night, and they’ve really been playing well the whole year. I’m very proud of the kids, who stepped in and filled roles tonight because, if they didn’t, we probably would have been in trouble.”
Both teams traded punts once more, but the Chiefs began to seal the win in the fourth quarter.
Colin Koprowski found McGee on a beautifully executed out-and-up for a 13-yard touchdown early into the period to give Sequoyah its final margin. On the ensuing River Ridge possession, the Chiefs' Jack Blackman intercepted Begin by perfectly timing a crossing route, and the Knights possessed the ball only once more.
Sequoyah finished with 184 yards of offense, while River Ridge finished with 164. It was Sequoyah’s first shutout victory of the season as the Chiefs held Morrison, the County’s leading rusher, to 29 yards on 12 carries.
McGee finished with a game-high five receptions and 77 yards with a touchdown, while Koprowski finished 7-for-10 passing for 88 yards. Mitchell led Sequoyah on the ground with 51 yards on 18 carries.
“Coaches just told us how they were proud of us tonight,” Mitchell said. “After that big loss to Creekview last week, it was big to come out here tonight and get the win to keep the season alive.”
Sequoyah will play at South Cobb next week, while River Ridge will travel to Creekview.