River falls short to River View
HANNIBAL — Coming into Friday night’s game, River View quarterback Gannon Unger boasted a rushing average of a shade under 53 yards per game.
He surpassed that on his 13th carry — a 47-yard TD run in the third quarter — and, at the same time, threw a dagger into River’s hopes for a comeback on Homecoming night at Martin Flannery Field.
Unger finished with a season-high 168 yards and four touchdowns — a score in each quarter — as the Black Bears pulled away for a 34-13 victory against the Pilots.
Time and again, River View came up with the clutch play. And, for most of the night, it was the 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback that did most of the damage. If he wasn’t torturing River with his legs, he was directing a Black Bears offense that went 3-for-6 on third downs in the second half, and 1-1 on fourth down, with two of those conversions going for scores.
“That’s the best quarterback we’ve faced all year,” a dejected River head coach Mike Flannery said inside a somber Pilots locker room. “He answered the call. He proved it.”
While the contest wasn’t a playoff game, it was, in fact, an opportunity for the Division VII-Pilots to accrue some sought-after computer points against the Division IV-Black Bears. The loss dropped River to 3-4 with just one team left on its schedule with a winning record — Frontier (6-1) — its Week 10 foe.
“We didn’t answer the call,” Flannery said. “They capitalized on every big play. We didn’t.”
River View (4-3), which won its third straight after triumphs against Buckeye Local and Minerva, was clutch on offense and defense. From an interception on the game’s second play to multiple key third- and fourth-down conversions, the Black Bears were able to hold off the Pilots almost every time it seemed like they were garnering momentum.
Especially in the second half.
Leading 13-7, River View used up almost 5 minutes of the third-quarter clock in driving to the River 11. But a missed field goal gave the Pilots new life.
A 10-yard run by Carter Dennis and, two plays later, a 13-yard jaunt by Michael Johnson (who finished with 155 yards rushing), got River to the Black Bears 39. Later, on 3rd-and-12, Stone Thompson hit Jake Rose for 10 yards, setting up a 4th-and-2 at the 30. There, Avery Creamer took a Thompson handoff and went up the middle, but was ruled short following an officials’ measurement.
On River View’s first play of its ensuing drive, Unger found Tyler Ball down the right sideline for 23 yards. Then, three plays later on 3rd-and-5, Unger exploded through the middle of the River defense and raced for the aforementioned 47-yard score that made it a 20-7 game with 2:10 left in the third.
River answered quickly.
A 35-yard strike from Thompson to Johnson, followed by back-to-back face mask and personal foul calls on River View, put the ball at the Black Bears’ 4. From there, Creamer scored. The kick failed and the Pilots trailed 20-13.
River forced a punt moments later and got the ball at their own 40. The Pilots were unable to convert on 3rd-and-6 and punted the ball back to the Black Bears with 8:51 and needing their defense to make a stand.
But facing their own 3rd-and-6 at their own 22, River View got creative. Unger handed the ball off to Hayden Martin who then found Cal Shrimplin downfield for a 78-yard score that made it a 27-13 game with 7:10 left.
And following another River punt on its ensuing possession, Unger finished the Pilots off with a 50-yard scamper to paydirt.
“They didn’t do anything different than what we saw on film,” Flannery said. “We gave them big plays.”
Thompson and Alli Long were named Mr. and Miss River, respectively, at halftime.