By DEAN FOX
GLADEVILLE — Led by Jordan Poole’s two touchdowns and a defensive stop in the final minutes, host Wilson Central handed Riverdale its third region loss of the year Friday night, 21-14.
The game marked the fourth consecutive win for the Wildcats who stand 6-2 overall / 3-2 in Region 4, 5A. The loss pushed the Warriors closer to the possibility of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Riverdale (4-4, 2-3 in Region 4-5A) faces probable must-win situations the final two weeks of the season, when it hosts Smyrna and La Vergne.
"It¹s disappointing we didn¹t make the plays when we needed to make them," Riverdale coach Ron Aydelott said. "That’s a good football team. My hat’s off to them."
With Wilson Central nursing a 21-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Riverdale’s C.J. Overton intercepted a pass at midfield.
On the next play, quarterback Cody West hit Erik Wallin for a 48-yard pass to the 7-yard line, and Aaron Ebalaroza scored on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1 to make it 21-14.
The Warriors’ Joey Lee then intercepted another pass, giving Riverdale the ball at Wilson Central’s 29 with less than five minutes to play.
Riverdale got a pair of first downs to move the ball to the 15 — one came on a pass-interference call that nullified an interception. But West was sacked twice, including once by Poole, and a fourth-down pass fell short.
Riverdale got a final chance at a Hail Mary, but West’s game-ending pass was intercepted.
For Wilson Central coach Traye Aric, it was a happy ending to an all-too-familiar script.
"I’ll tell you what I was thinking there at the end: Here we go again," Aric said. "We’ve been down that road so many times this year. We challenged our guys at halftime, ‘were we going to let another one slip through our fingers?’ And they didn’t let it slip through our fingers."
Wilson Central led 14-7 at the half, scoring on Poole’s 40-yard touchdown run and an 18-yard screen pass from Kelton Stewart to JaJuan Brooks.
The Wildcats led 14-0 midway through the second quarter, having held Riverdale to only one first down.
But the Warriors finally broke through, converting three straight third downs and scoring on Trey Oliver’s 5-yard run. That seemed to finally give Riverdale momentum. The Warriors got a first down on their opening series, but had only six yards on their first four possessions.
Wilson Central finally pushed its lead back to two touchdowns midway through the third quarter.
After Wilson Central downed a punt at Riverdale’s 5, the Warriors botched a handoff on their first play, with the Wildcats recovering at the 1.
A penalty knocked Wilson Central back, but Poole finally scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1, pushing the lead to 21-7.
It was the second straight time Wilson Central has beaten Riverdale. The first came in last year¹s second round of the playoffs.
"It’s a great accomplishment," Poole said. "It’s hard to do. They’re a good team, but we went out and did it."
Wilson Central returns to action Friday, Oct. 24 at LaVergne High.