FRONT ROYAL — Riverheads piled up over 450 yards of offense and forced four turnovers on its way to a 49-21 nondistrict win over Skyline on Friday night.
Gladiators junior Zac Smiley rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries to lead a trio of 100-yard rushers that included Cole Burton (13 carries for 104 yards) and Cy Cox (10 carries, 103 yards, two touchdowns). Riverheads finished with 457 yards of offense, all of it rushing, and averaged 8.5 yards per carry.
The win improved Riverheads to 5-0 this season and extended its winning streak to 16 straight games.
“I’d be a fool if I wasn’t satisfied (with the 5-0 start). I’d be an awful hard to please fella,” Gladiators head coach Rob Casto said. “We’re 5-0. We’ve still got a long way to go. Still there’s some things defensively — they throw the ball really well and they have some really good receivers and I thought we made some plays. We had three picks, I think, and we had opportunities obviously in the second half that we could really run away with it, but we turned the ball over. That’s something that there’s really no excuse for it on our part. But it just happened. We came up here and we won and that’s the name of the game.”
Skyline, which passed for 274 of its 367 yards of offense, kept within striking distance in the first half, cutting Riverheads’ lead to 21-14 when running back David Carter capped a 13-play, 63-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 1:20 left in the second quarter.
The Gladiators answered with a quick touchdown drive before the break, taking a 28-14 lead into halftime after quarterback Elijah Dunlap’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone with five seconds left in the second quarter.
Riverheads forced turnovers on Skyline’s first three possessions of the second half — all on the Gladiators’ side of the 50-yard line — and followed the first two takeaways with touchdown drives to stretch the lead to 42-14 late in the third quarter.
Cox also halted a Skyline drive deep into Riverheads’ territory early in the second quarter when he picked off a Blake Appleton pass at the Gladiators’ 12-yard line to preserve a 14-7 lead. Smiley and Dunlap each had third-quarter interceptions for Riverheads.
Appleton completed 30 of 40 passes for 274 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for Skyline. He put the Hawks on the board with a 60-yard scoring strike to Logan Maiatico that cut Riverheads’ lead to 14-7 in the first quarter and hit Marion Haley (14 receptions, 124 yards) for a late score in the fourth quarter.