Tackling issues plagued the Pirates defense all night.
Big plays can make or break a game.
The Riverview High (1-1) football team made one more big play than Braden River High (0-2) on Friday night. In a game between evenly-matched teams, it was the difference. The Rams walked off the Braden River field 35-28 winners.
The first half was back and forth. In a 180-degree spin from week one, Braden River's offense got the fireworks started. Junior quarterback Shawqi Itraish ran for a five-yard score on a designed keeper. But the Rams would answer right back with a 65-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Sean White to sophomore wideout Omari Hayes.
Halftime saw the teams deadlocked at 14. Neither team could break away. In the third quarter, the Rams got the margin of error they needed. Junior wide receiver/running back Michael "Poodah" Hayes — Omari Hayes' brother — ran for a 10-yard score. Then, after a Pirates punt, White found Michael Fraraccio for a 20-yard score.
The teams would go back to trading scores after that, but that one blip in the pattern was enough to sink the Pirates. Another Itraish keeper cut the Rams lead to 35-28 with 5 minutes to go, but the ensuing onside kick failed and the Rams were able to run out the clock.
Itraish was much improved from week one, finishing 21-for-36 for 274 yards, though he also threw a first-half interception in Rams territory. White was 10-for-19 for 173 yards.
Braden River coach Curt Bradley said missed tackling was the root of the team's issues. Even more disappointing is that tackling was a point of emphasis for the team during the week, he said. The Pirates will try to get their first win next week, on the road against district opponent Manatee High (0-2).
White said having all of Riverview's weapons at his disposal — the Hayes brothers, Fraraccio, senior running back Tray Hall and sophomore wideout Duke Timmons among them — makes it a blast to play under center. After going 1-3 to start last season, the Rams knew they did not want to dig a hole for themselves in 2019. The win puts the team back on equal footing before it hosts Palmetto High (2-0) on Sept. 6.