QUINCY — It wasn't the effort their coach wanted, but the Riverside Warriors departed their new playing surface with a 28-26 win over visiting Ripley Friday night.
A large crowd put in an appearance to root on the Warriors as they unveiled the school's athletic turf field and improved to 2-1 on the campaign.
"To be completely honest, we didn't do anything much better," Riverside second-year head coach Alex Daugherty said Friday. "But, the kids fought, the kids fought hard.
"They deserved this win, but at the end of the day, we've got to get better."
"That was an ugly win; I'm not very pleased with it," he continued. "We made too many mistakes."
After the teams battled to a 20-20 halftime deadlock, the hosts forged ahead on a 40-yard touchdown run by Caden Easterling, which was followed by a two-point conversion run by Griffin Key for a 28-20 cushion.
Ripley answered, though, with a 2-yard scoring plunge by Kadin Hall with 46 seconds remaining to creep to within 28-26. Riverside senior defender Charlie Pierson successfully denied the game-tying conversion pass from Noah Westfall to Cameron Ramsey, and the Warriors escaped with the victory.
"The key was to keep fighting and have each other's backs," said Pierson, who also rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown and had five solo tackles against the Vikings. "It was real exciting seeing everyone there (from the community).
"It was pretty fun to get the win in front of them."
Easterling carried 20 times for 129 yards and two scores for the Warriors, Key rushed for 66 yards and one TD, and Javante Elzy accumulated 51 yards on 11 tries. Kane Yong caught a two-point pass from Elzy. Easterling also snared a 46-yard pass from Elzy.
Dalton Myers rushed 11 times for 104 yards and a pair of TDs for the Vikings.
Riverside had a slight 320-313 edge in total yardage.
"(Ripley) Coach (Eddie) Smolder does a great job," Daugherty said. "I always know it's going to be a dog fight. They got the better end of us last year, and we got the better end of them this year. That's the difference, this team really likes to fight. That's what I love about them."
Daugherty was not happy, particularly, with his team's defensive effort.
"I run the defense, and I'm not pleased," he said. "We weren't very aggressive. I hang my hat on being aggressive, being an aggressive coach. My kids weren't aggressive tonight."
Despite the negatives, Daugherty was pleased with the win and the reason for the evening.
"Ripley was Riverside's very first home loss when the school opened (1999), so I didn't really want it to be our first home loss on the new field," he said. "It means a lot.
"The community comes together right behind these kids, and that's what it's all about."
To overcome sub-par performances moving forward, Pierson said the Warriors need "to focus more at practice."
Although he wishes they could have changed some things and pulled out a win over Huntington, Pierson feels the Warriors are in better position than last fall.
"We're sitting pretty good at 2-1 right now," he said. "We've improved a lot; a lot of people bought into the weight room."
The primary goal now is to "keep our heads on right and keep working."
Riverside, which lost 35-22 to Huntington in Week 2, will have an open date this week before hosting its homecoming game Sept. 27 against St. Albans.
The Warriors are co-No. 5 in this week's WVSSAC Class AAA ratings.
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