PLANT CITY — Plant City took advantage of two first-half fumbles by Riverview and controlled the clock in the second half Friday night to roll to a 34-14 victory over the Sharks.
On the opening drive of the game, Riverview marched 60 yards to the Plant City 1-yard line. Kimo Vereen, who rushed for 120 yards on the game, carried off tackle and appeared to have his forward progress stopped at the goal line.
Officials did not blow the whistle, however, and Devyn Salmon stripped the ball out of Vereen’s hands and rumbled 99 yards the other direction for a touchdown.
Riverview coach Mike Thornton was incensed that officials allowed play to continue.
“In my mind the progress had been stopped,” Thornton said. “So we’re either blowing a whistle and lining back up, or, he’s in the end zone. There’s not only the danger involved of a dead pile and someone getting rolled up on, it became a 14-point swing.”
The Sharks responded on the first play of their next series as Vereen atoned for the fumble by running 69 yards up the gut to even the score at 7-7.
Plant City jumped back in front later in the first quarter on a 6-yard touchdown run by Ervin Michael, but Riverview answered right back with an impressive drive and seemed poised to tie it.
Then, misfortune struck again.
On his way into the end zone from the 1, quarterback Chase Freeman had the ball knocked loose and Plant City recovered on the 2.
“That one was on us,” Thornton said. “There aren’t too many teams that can put the ball on the ground like that and still win. Those are the hurdles we’ve got to get over.”
The Raiders scored touchdowns on each of their second-half possessions, including a 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Rodriguez to Tavares Chase as the Raiders pulled away.