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Gaston gets official help to beat Riverdale

For the Review

Two touchdowns after time had expired; a sign from the heavens; a successful fumble-rooski fake punt; and a gift from the referees all made this one of the most exciting Riverdale football games ever.

Last Friday's game was the last non-conference warmup for 3A rivals Riverdale and Gaston, and it was a good one.

Riverdale struck first on a 10-yard pass from junior quarterback Kane Henderson to sophomore Kenny Johnston in the first quarter to go up 6-0. The Maverick defense held the Greyhounds scoreless, giving Riverdale one more great scoring chance right before halftime.

With second and goal from the Gaston 5-yard line, Riverdale was hit with a holding penalty, pushing the ball back to the 20 with just 15 seconds remaining. A draw play to senior running back Marshall Fettig got the ball back to the 10, with two seconds left before intermission.

Then, after a timeout, came a sign from the heavens - a double rainbow suddenly graced the skies over Lewis and Clark's Griswold Stadium. On the ensuing play, Henderson found junior wideout Evan Peterson just behind the Gaston defender. The pass was long, but Peterson stretched and grabbed it just inches off the turf as the half expired. The Mavericks led 12-0 at the break.

In the second half, Gaston's size started to even out Riverdale's team speed. Senior Andrew Kendall scored on a 15-yard run in the third period to cut the lead to 12-6.

Then, in the fourth quarter, the fun really began. Facing fouth and 12 from midfield with about seven minutes remaining, Gaston pulled a play from the history books. They lined up in punt formation, but snapped the ball to one of the up-backs. In turn, he put the ball on the ground for another back, and the confused Riverdale defense was paralyzed long enough for the Greyhound runner to scoot for the first down. Minutes later, Kendall rumbled into the end zone from two yards out. The two-point conversion was good, and Gaston led for the first time 14-12.

But Riverdale was not done. The Mavericks took the ensuing kickoff, marched the length of the field, and scored on Henderson's 1 yard quarterback sneak with 2:30 remaining.

Then, it looked as if Riverdale would hold the Greyhounds, as they faced fourth and 15 from the Maverick 45 with less than 90 seconds left. Gaston threw a desperation pass that fell incomplete, but the officials called Riverdale for pass interference.

The Riverdale defense stuffed the next few plays, leaving Gaston with 15 seconds to go from the 30. The next play was a desperation pass and a jump ball at the 2-yard line. The Gaston receiver came down with the ball with eight seconds left.

Gaston decided to run a sweep to the right, but the Maverick defense was all over it and tackled the runner at the 7. The clock showed double zeros again, leading fans to believe that Riverdale had won.

But wait, the referees were huddling. They decided that Gaston had managed to call timeout with two seconds remaining.

With one play remaining, Gaston quarterback Ryan Lewis put the ball up for grabs in the end zone. There were blue Riverdale jerseys all around the ball, and Evan Peterson knocked it towards the turf where Gaston wide receiver Josh Breidenbach was lying. The ball landed squarely in his lap, resulting in the game-winning touchdown as time expired for the second time.