BIDWELL, Ohio — River Valley snapped a five-game losing skid by picking up its first victory of the 2013 football season Friday night following a 40-29 decision over visiting Alexander in a Week 5 non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
The Raiders (1-4) trailed 14-12 after one quarter of play and were down 21-20 at the intermission, but the hosts rallied for 20 consecutive points to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a sizable 40-21 cushion with 5:51 remaining in regulation.
The Spartans (1-4) answered with a score and successful two-point conversion with 4:28 left in the contest to pull to within 11 points, but ultimately never came closer the rest of the way. The win allowed the Raiders to snap a three-game skid against the Spartans, whom they last defeated in 2007 by a 29-7 count.
RVHS outgained the guests by a slim 365-353 overall margin in total yards and also claimed a small 19-17 edge in first downs, but the difference in the final outcome came in the turnover department. The Raiders had just one turnover, while the Spartans threw four interceptions and also had the game’s only fumble — resulting in a plus-4 turnover differential for the hosts.
Those extra possessions allowed River Valley to control the game by controlling the clock, as the Raiders were on offense for 32:27 out of a possible 48 minutes of regulation.
Early on, however, the Spartans seemed to have control after jumping out to an early 7-0 lead following a 17-yard TD run by Josh Barnes with 8:19 remaining in the opening period. The Raiders answered on their ensuing possession, as Austin Bradley hauled in a 30-yard scoring pass from Dayton Hardway with 8:19 left, making it a 7-6 contest.
RVHS took its first lead of the night less than two minutes later, as Bradley scampered in from a yard out with 6:35 left in the first quarter for a 12-7 edge. Alexander came right back with a one-yard scoring pass from Brody McGrath to Barnes with 4:53 remaining in the first, giving the guests a 14-12 advantage.
AHS extended its lead out to 21-12 just nine seconds into the second canto after Barnes hauled in a 5-yard scoring pass from McGrath with 11:51 remaining in the half. River Valley retaliated with a 37-yard TD pass from Hardway to Kirk Morrow with 10:21 left, making it a 21-20 contest at the intermission.
The Raiders took a permanent lead following its first possession of the second half, as Hardway found Bradley on a 25-yard scoring pass with 9:52 left in the third for a 26-21 edge. Hardway added a 39-yard scoring pass to Morrow with 3:20 left in the third, making it a 34-21 contest headed into the fourth.
Morrow hauled in one final scoring pass from Hardway — this time from 10 yards out — to give the hosts a comfortable 40-21 advantage with 5:51 left in regulation. McGrath connected with Barnes on a 30-yard scoring pass with 4:28 remaining in the game to wrap up the scoring.
Mark Wray led the Raiders rushing attack with 44 yards on 11 carries, followed by Bradley with 18 yards on six attempts. Justin Arrowood also had three carries for 12 yards for the victors.
Hardway finished the game 24-of-38 passing for 364 yards, which included five touchdowns and one interception. Hardway was also sacked six times for negative 78 yards, which led to RVHS having only one rushing yard total on 34 attempts by night’s end.
Morrow led the hosts with 10 catches for 180 yards and three touchdowns, while Bradley hauled in 10 passes for 148 yards and two scores. Wray and Jared Mabe each caught two passes apiece for 26 and 10 yards, respectively.
Mike Williams had two sacks for the Raider defense, which was led in tackles by Morrow with eight. Brody Moles picked off two AHS passes, while Morrow and Wray each had one interception.
Josh Barnes led the Spartans with 65 rushing yards on eight carries, followed by Joe Barnes with 13 yards on three totes. Alexander mustered just 81 rushing yards on 22 tries in the setback.
McGrath finished the night 20-of-43 passing for 272 yards, throwing three touchdowns and four interceptions. Josh Barnes led the wideouts with six catches for 43 yards and three touchdowns, while Jacob Wirick had five grabs for 85 yards.
RVHS was penalized nine times for 85 yards in the victory, while Alexander was flagged 11 times for 85 yards. The Raiders also had six of the 10 punts in the contest.
River Valley opens its final season of OVC play next Friday when it hosts Chesapeake in a Week 6 Homecoming clash at 7:30 p.m.