On the night when he celebrated his 17th birthday, Riverdale Baptist senior quarterback Amir Hall and his teammates had plenty to celebrate as the Crusaders rolled to a 42-7 victory over visiting St. Mary’s of Annapolis in front of nearly 500 spectators at the Riverdale Baptist Sportsplex in Upper Marlboro on Friday evening. Riverdale Baptist (4-1) scored […]
On the night when he celebrated his 17th birthday, Riverdale Baptist senior quarterback Amir Hall and his teammates had plenty to celebrate as the Crusaders rolled to a 42-7 victory over visiting St. Mary’s of Annapolis in front of nearly 500 spectators at the Riverdale Baptist Sportsplex in Upper Marlboro on Friday evening.
Riverdale Baptist (4-1) scored early and often against St. Mary’s (0-6) as Hall completed 18 of 22 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. But it was the Crusader’s defense that got things started initially when Zech McPhearson recovered a Patrick Hines fumble and returned it 22 yards for a score on the second play of the game and a Jeremiah McBride extra point gave the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
“I think these last four games our defense has really been picking up the intensity,” said Riverdale Baptist first-year coach Ceasar Nettles, III, whose team has now won four straight games since opening the season with a 34-28 loss against Spalding. “We started a little slow on offense, but once we got going it seemed like everything was working. We were able to stay balanced.”
After McPhearson’s defensive touchdown gave the hosts an early lead, Riverdale came away empty on its first offensive possession despite reaching the Saints’ red zone on an eight-play drive. St. Mary’s countered with an eight-play drive that also netted nothing, then Riverdale’s offense awoke. The Crusaders went 63 yards in only five plays with Hall connecting with Cody Wilburn for 39 yards and then hit McPhearson for another 17 before Marcus Williams found the end zone from four yards out for a 13-0 Crusaders’ lead.
“It really was about the defense tonight,” Hall said. “Those guys set us up in great position all night. It seemed like every time they had a drive going, one of our defenders came through with a big play. We were able to execute most of the plays tonight on offense. We had some good run plays and the wide receivers got open, but St. Mary’s did a lot of good things. I almost threw an interception on my first pass of the game. It took me a while to get adjusted to what they were doing.”
Riverdale Baptist closed out the first half in style, getting help from both sides of the ball. Hall marched the Crusaders 66 yards in nine plays, completing three passes for 44 yards and junior running back Zack Campbell carried four times for 19 yards and scored from one-yard out to make it 20-0. Sir Patrick Scott intercepted a Kevin Sheckells pass moments later and McBride capped the half with a 39-yard field goal for a 23-0 Crusaders’ lead at the intermission.
St. Mary’s avoided a shut out when Hines redeemed himself for the early fumble and went 39 yards on the Saints’ first possession of the third quarter to bring the visitors to within 23-7. When St. Mary’s forced the Crusaders to punt on their next possession, the Saints briefly had a chance to get back into contention. But this time the Crusaders’ defense again made the play as Sheckells could not contain a bad snap and Riverdale Baptist junior Stephen Mingo picked up the loose ball and raced 40 yards to the Saints’ two-yard line. Two plays later it was Williams who scored for the second time.
Riverdale Baptist added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter and had another one called back on a penalty. On the second play of the quarter, Hall hit Williams out of the backfield for a nine-yard touchdown toss and a 36-7 lead. Then after McPhearson had an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown negated by a penalty, the Crusaders went 91 yards in seven plays while seeking to run out the clock. Hall connected with Deron Smith on a 55-yard strike with 1:40 remaining for the game’s final points.
“We knew they were going to be a tough team,” said Riverdale Baptist senior linebacker Johnny Pickett. “We could not take them lightly. We wanted our defense to set the tone early. We made some big plays then our offense did the rest. I love watching [Amir] operate. He knows how to put points on the board. He’s fun to watch.”