Riverside digs deep to get the win

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By Matt Dziak / Asst. Sports Editor

Fighting for yards (Matt Dziak / Asst. Sports Editor )

By Matt Dziak / Asst. Sports Editor

After jumping out to an early 24-0 second quarter lead, the Tigers (8-0) seemed to be in cruise control until they allowed Santa Ana to score 20 unanswered third quarter points and found themselves in an unfamiliar situation; they trailed for only the second time this season.

After Dalton Livingston’s third interception, Santa Ana was able to score on a 26-yard reception from Joshua Webb, making the score 27-24, with the defense allowing 27 unanswered points.

With the guidance of coach Craft and the rest of the coaching staff, the Tigers are able to improve and emerge from the most trying of times.

“We practice these situations every practice and we had to just focus and have confidence in our players and abilities,” said running back Andre Hunt.

The momentum swung back to the home Tigers after Markus Smith returned a blocked point after kick to the end zone, scoring two points and cut the lead to 27-26.

“That score brought our team together,” said Hunt. “Some of us were hanging our head but that play was the biggest play to unite this team for a victory.”

Livingston was able to overcome his mistakes, connecting through the air on 29 of 43 passes for 258 yards and two scores.

The Tigers offense remained strong gaining 452 total yards and running back Andre Hunt led the team with 92 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.

The defense was out of character giving up 364 yards and surrendered several big plays resulting in Santa Ana scores. The team was also penalized an astounding 11 times costing the Tigers 95 yards, including a Sadale Foster punt return for a touchdown.

However, the gritty group of defenders found their stride sacking the Santa Ana quarterbacks six times and shut down the Dons attack in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.

The home fans found themselves running out of fingernails to bite on until the defense stopped the Dons on a fourth and twelve resulting in an incomplete pass with only 1:53 left.

“We knew this was going to be a battle,” said safety Rashad Rainey. “We corrected our mistakes and assignments to keep us in the game and eventually get the victory.”

With the turnover on downs, the Tigers were able to turn to Hunt to move the ball into Santa Ana territory, allowing Wesley Feer to kick a 45-yard field goal giving the Tigers an eight point lead that would remain.

The last minute felt like an eternity as the team and fans held their breath with every Santa Ana hail mary pass attempt.

The Tigers are 3-0 in the Central East Conference and have two games remaining before claiming a conference championship.

The true character of this year’s team was tested unlike any other game, yet the Tigers rallied together and were able to achieve the most important thing, facing adversity they found a way to win.

The Tigers will travel to Palm Desert to take on the College of the Desert, in what will be the ultimate road test to be one step closer to an undefeated season and a chance to play in a postseason bowl game.

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