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Riverside Christian Academy’s varsity football team defeated its 2013 playoff rival Hendersonville Christian Academy by 24 points in the Knights’ season opener Friday.
The Knights led a balanced attack against the Crusaders with almost equal rushing and passing yardage.
“We went into the game trying to find out our identity and see what we are capable of. I feel like we showed a strong will to do what was needed,” said Head Coach Travis Creasy.
The first quarter of the game was scoreless. Caleb Durham scored the Knights’ first points on a 49-yard run to the end zone with 10:56 left in the first half of the game. Ryan Eldridge added the two-point conversion on a pass play from Josh Mills. Durham would score once more on a five-yard run before halftime, and Seth Finch caught a pass from Mills to add two more points on the two-point conversion attempt.
“The first half you could tell we had guys playing in new positions, so we were kind of feeling our offense out, and our defense played well enough to give us that opportunity,” said Creasy.
Seth Finch scored all of RCA’s second half points. Finch’s first touchdown came on a 49-yard pass from Mills early in the third quarter; the Knights’ two-point conversion attempt was no good. Tanner Overby from Hendersonville scored the Crusaders’ only touchdown on a breakaway 49-yard run early in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 22-6.
Finch added another six points to the board on his second 49-yard touchdown catch of the night with 11:13 left in the game. Finch also caught a pass on the two-point conversion attempt to bring the final score to RCA, 30, HCA, 6.
“I felt like we played as a team and that was represented in the stats in our balance on offense. I was very impressed with our defensive performance. Our corners seemed to play very well. They will be asked to do the same this week,” said Creasy.
Caleb Durham led the Knights in rushing with 12 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Hill followed closely with 10 carries for 75 yards.
“Caleb seemed to get better with every carry, and Josh Hill did a good job blocking for him along with the rest of the line,” said Creasy.
Josh Mills played quarterback for the Knights. He completed six of ten passes for 133 yards, two touchdowns and three two-point conversions.
Seth Finch had five catches for 130 yards, two touchdowns and two, two-point conversions. Ryan Eldridge had one catch for a two-point conversion.
“Mills seemed to come in and get more comfortable with every play. He made some big throws in some clutch situations when we needed a score,” said Creasy.
The Knights had a great team effort on defense with 13 players contributing tackles.
Ryan Eldridge led the Knights on defense with nine tackles, two pass deflections and an assist. Ben Cooper had two tackles and a crucial fumble recovery. Newcomer Cody Smith had five tackles and two assists. Josh Hill and Jim Hammons each had three tackles and a tackle for loss. Jarrod Trahin had six tackles. Glenn Hammons had two tackles and three assists. Luke Eakes had two tackles, an assist, a pass deflection and an interception.
“Our team really showed up to play defense in holding the other team to six points. They seemed to play as a cohesive unit. Tight coverage and pressure on the quarterback made it difficult for Hendersonville to complete passes. Gang tackling helped stifle the running attack. We didn’t give up on any plays and hustled to the whistle,” said Creasy.
On special teams, Seth Finch averaged 40 yards per punt. Luke Eakes stepped up as the Knights’ new kicker after the graduation of Austin Wooten; Eakes kicked off five times for a total of 137 yards. Ryan Eldridge had a 22-yard kickoff return, and Caleb Durham had a 34-yard kickoff return.
“Our kickers had a huge impact on the game in pinning the Crusaders back in their own territory, which helped our defense,” said Creasy.
The Knights will play Lighthouse Christian School at home on Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“I feel like we took a good step last Friday night, and I know our guys are excited to play Lighthouse because we lost to them last year. We will have to continue to improve on our tackling and look forward to the challenge,” said Creasy.