Van Horn powers past East
By Toriano Porter PrepsKC Staff Writer
Those pesky turnovers.
They’ll usually do in a team.
Or in East’s case, add to a frustrating Homecoming night.
Van Horn (4-1, 2-0 Crossroads Conference) capitalized on a slew of errors in a 42-0 win over East Friday at Interscholastic League Stadium, while the Bears failed to take advantage of the gifts afforded them by Falcon miscues.
The loss was the 15th in a row for East (0-5 overall, 0-1 IL) dating back to last season’s 0-10 finish.
“We’ve got to play ball, man,” Bears head coach Greg Smith said. “We’ve got to play the entire game. We played good for a quarter-and-a-half. We’ve just got to play for the whole four quarters. A quarter-and-a-half will not win you a game. It’s just that simple.”
The Falcons’ victory was aided in part by two acrobatic first-half interceptions from defensive backs Sylvester Newman and Terrion Seddens and a fumble recovery on a second quarter kickoff.
Falcons running backs J.J. Rivers and Rai’Reco Miller split time in the backfield, which proved fruitful for Van Horn. The pair accounted for six touchdowns on the ground.
Rivers, a senior, rushed 10 times in the first half for 151 yards and two touchdowns on his way to a 23-carry, 280-yard night. He totaled five rushing touchdowns.
Miller, a junior, carried the ball eight times in the first half for 79 yards and a touchdown. He added 33 more yards in the second half.
The timeshare was not by design.
“J.J. really didn’t start off the way we wanted him to,” Van Horn head coach Jeff Tolbert said. “For some reason he was tentative so we made a replacement. Reco Miller is a good running back, too. When Reco came out and set a little fire, I went to J.J. and said, ‘that’s what we need. It’s your turn and you better show it.’
“It woke him up a little bit.”
East forced four turnovers, but repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. They were not able to take advantage of two fumble recoveries and two interceptions due to ineffective offensive execution.
“You tell me the defense plays like that and we can’t get any points for them?” Smith said. “We kept them out of the endzone twice.
“There were three plays we ran on (offense) where we only had 10 people on the field. We have to play (smarter) ball, man. We did absolutely nothing on ‘O’ today.”
After an evenly-played beginning to the first quarter, Van Horn went ahead on a 28-yard run by Miller with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in the quarter.
The Falcons struck again after a 6-yard touchdown run by Rivers capped a 13-play, 90-yard drive.
The drive was aided by Newman’s diving interception off a tipped pass that quelled East’s threat to even the score with 6:21 left before halftime.
Van Horn stretched the lead to 20-0 after a 67-yard jolt from Rivers, a backbreaker with just 3:43 remaining before the break.
Rivers added touchdown runs of 7 and 33 yards in the third quarter to help build a 34-0 lead.
He finished the night with a 25-yard score with 8:32 left in the game to help give the Falcons a 42-0 advantage.
“I didn’t come out with full intensity,” Rivers said. “It took me like a series or two to get back in my groove. Once I got back in, I kind of got comfortable and just started to go from there.”
The silky smooth Rivers added he doesn’t mind sharing duty with the sturdy and compact Miller.
“He’s going to be good in the future,” he said. “At practice we compete against each other and try to make each other better.”
Added Miller: “We have good chemistry. It’s amazing being able to be back there with him. It’s a good experience. He’s a leader. He did a good job tonight. We both had good blocking.”
Tolbert also likes the look of his dynamic duo halfway through the season.
“J.J. is a senior and Reco is a junior,” Tolbert said. “He knows his time is coming to be the guy to carry most of the load. It’s worked out for us.”
As for East, they’ll get back to work Monday and try to end their skid.
“We have to score some points,” said junior defensive back Adrian Orozco, who had one of two touchdown-saving interceptions by the Bears’ defense. Sophomore defensive back Michael Brown had the other.
“Our offense needs to learn how to get 11 men on the field, first, and then run the ball successfully,” Orozco continued. “We try to do our best and not let them score, but we have to put some points on the board.”
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