The Rams advance to the 8A Region 2 semifinals following a 60-15 win.
Behind a dominating running game and a shut-down defense, Riverview dominated Kissimmee Gateway in the quarterfinals of the FHSAA 8A Region 2 playoffs on the way to a 60-15 win. The Rams (10-1) advance to the region semifinals where they will play at Vero Beach Nov. 17.
“We did a great job and started out fast in all three phases of the game,” said Riverview Head Coach Josh Smithers. “We get Vero next week, the No. 1 team in the state. We’re going to prepare the same way, make sure we’re healthy and know our assignments and give them everything we’ve got. “
In their opening playoff game, Riverview jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and didn’t slow down.
Running back Ali Boyce had three touchdowns, two in the first quarter, and the third-seeded Rams raced out to a 28-0 first-half lead on the way to blowing by the sixth-seeded Panthers. The one-two punch of Boyce and Michael Hayes, who also ran for a first-quarter score, paced the Rams on the ground and set a tone for the lopsided contest early.
Quarterback Arthur Brantley added another rushing touchdown to go along with touchdown passes to Michael VanNess and Stephon Turner.
Down 28-0 in the second quarter, the Panthers put together a long drive that ended in a touchdown and successful two-point conversion. The Rams responded with a touchdown of their own, putting the home team up 35-8 before just before the half and effectively snuffing out any chance of a Gateway comeback.
Riverview didn’t let up to start the second half despite the big advantage on the scoreboard. The Rams recovered their own onside kick to start the third quarter and Brantley followed it up a few plays later with his touchdown toss to Turner.
Turner would add a rushing touchdown in the third quarter, putting the Rams up 48-8. The 40-point lead initiated a running clock, all but putting the game away.
The Rams were just as good defensively. Riverview forced the Panthers into punts on their first four possessions, only two of which got past midfield. Combined with the Ram's offensive success, Gateway never had a chance to get back into the game.
Due to the lopsided score, the visitors had to abandon the ground game early. Without the threat of a running attack, which had been Gateway’s strength all season, the Rams were able to fluster opposing quarterback Maurice Adams early and often, preventing any consistency through the air.
“When we get up early, our defense puts you in a bad down and distance,” Smithers said. “If we could get them in second and third down, it allowed us to build a little momentum and put them away.”