Riverdale made things interesting for three quarters on Friday night but South Fort Myers is headed back to the state playoffs.
The Wolfpack scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to put away the Raiders 42-13 in a District 7A-12 game at Riverdale.
The victory means South (6-1, 1-0) will be no worse than the 7A-12 runner up and it also means that Gulf Coast has clinched a playoff spot out of 7A-12. After hosting Naples in a non-district matchup next week, the Wolfpack will host Gulf Coast on October 30 for the 7A-12 championship.
South got off to a sluggish start with 100 penalty yards and three turnovers in the first half alone before finding its stride in the fourth quarter.
“We put ourselves in some bad situations,” South Fort Myers coach Anthony Dixon said. “It’s getting old. We have got to fix it and we have got to fix it quick. The next two weeks we are going against two great football teams. With that type of first half the game will be over.”
Riverdale sophomore wide receiver Jacob Tracey caught a huge 54-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Daniel Ulmer to bring the Raiders within eight at 21-13 right before halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, South scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth to eliminate the Raiders (3-5, 0-2) from playoff contention.
South junior wide receiver Brandon Lewis made the first two big plays of the fourth quarter. He snagged a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior Ke’Shon Murray to put the Wolfpack up 28-13 and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Michael Morris to put South up 35-13.
Murray added another dazzling South touchdown in the fourth when he zigged and zagged his way for a 22-yard touchdown run with 4:54 to play.
“He has been working his butt off all year,” Dixon said of Lewis. “We have been missing him week after week and tonight we finally connected. As long as he keeps working hard he will have these types of nights the next two years.”
Riverdale opened the game’s scoring after South lost a fumble on the opening kickoff. Sophomore Zach Sanders’ 9-yard touchdown run put the Raiders up 7-0 midway through the first.
Tracey finished the game with 64 receiving yards to lead the Riverdale offensive effort.
“We played our butts off,” Riverdale coach Damon Jones said. “For us to keep it within one score going into the fourth against a team like that, I am proud as heck.”
Murray, senior Willie Johnson and junior Riley Ware each scored a first-half touchdown for South, who played without starting running back E’Quan Dorris for the second straight week because of injury.
The Wolfpack were whistled for 17 penalties for 145 yards in the game.
South will host Naples next week, a team that has won six consecutive games by an average of 52 points.
“We don’t have too many kids that have faced them,” Dixon said of Naples. “I don’t know if they really know what to expect. We have to hurry up and get them ready.”
South Fort Myers 7 14 0 21–42
Riverdale 7 6 0 0–13
Riverdale: Zach Sanders 9 run (Jarrod Regner kick)
South Fort Myers: Ke’Shon Murray 42 run (Casey Winn kick)
South Fort Myers: Willie Johnson 71 pass from Michael Morris (Winn kick)
South Fort Myers: Riley Ware 53 run (Winn kick)
Riverdale: Jacob Tracey 54 pass from Daniel Ulmer (kick failed)
South Fort Myers: Brandon Lewis 25 pass from Murray (Winn kick)
South Fort Myers: Lewis 30 pass from Morris (Winn kick)
South Fort Myers: Murray 22 run (Jonathan Gonzelz kick)