Riv-Ell Cup lives up to hipe, Panthers dominate second half to win Cup
The Riv-Ell Cup - two teams part of long rivalry in the WPIAL. A rivalry that goes beyond football, basketball, baseball, and every other sport involved. A rivalry that is only separated by a 3 minute drive across route 65 and the Connoquenessing Creek. A rivalry that involves families separated by two colors - green and blue. On a brisk and crisp night of only 48 degrees, the Wolverines of Ellwood City and the Panthers of Riverside took on a battle of the trenches in week 7 of the WPIAL High School Football 2018 campaign at Helling Stadium knowing that the one thing on everyone’s mind was…the Riv-Ell Cup.
Riverside started the scoring on the evening in the first quarter as Ben Hughes completed a well-timed pass across the middle of the Wolverines defense to Nathan Sciarro who ran into the endzone to make the score in favor of the Panthers. The PAT attempt by Wyatt Ray was good as the Panthers took a 7-0 early lead.
The Wolverines took the ensuing kickoff and held the ball very well, driving almost a full 80 yards into the endzone. However, on a quick handoff near the endzone, the Wolverine running back fumbled the ball into the endzone as the Panthers recovered to not only get the touchback, but more importantly, stop the Wolverines from scoring.
After the turnover, both teams started the battle of field position, with both teams driving the ball, but not finishing off their drives. With that being said, the first half only saw one score as the Panthers took a 7-0 lead into halftime. Compared to last year’s big win by the Panthers, the Wolverines were looking great being only down 7-0 compared to 28-0 after the first quarter (last year).
The third quarter has been the Achilles heel for the Wolverines as they have given up several scoring drives right after halftime. The same occurred this night. The Panthers took the opening second half kickoff and drove 61 yards to pay dirt to make the score 14-0 Riverside. The scoring play was a 57 yard TD run by RB LeMarcus Cleckley who also had 127 yards rushing on the evening. The PAT was good by Wyatt Ray.
Going to the fourth quarter with the Panthers leading 14-0, the Wolverines were still not out of the game as they knew they had out-gained the Panthers in yards and rushing at the time, but just could not overcome penalties, mistakes, and finishing off their own drives.
The Wolverines were finally able to break through after being scoreless for three quarters, as an interception by LB Donavin Chambers helped give the Wolverines great field position from the Riverside 40 yard line. The drive was capped off by Rick Pitrelli who scored from 1 yard out, making the score 14-6 Riverside. The PAT was good by Colin Smith who now is 11-12 for PATs on the season. Riverside’s lead was down to 14-7, giving the Wolverine faithful some hope that a comeback may be on the verge.
Unfortunately, the Panthers fought right back on the next drive. The Panthers scored again on another 61 yard drive that was capped off by a Ben Hughes passing touchdown to Nic Ottaviani who scampered into the endzone making it 20-7 Panthers. The PAT was good by Wyatt Ray, making the score 21-7 Riverside.
The Wolverines had two more attempts to score, but unfortunately a turnover on downs along with an ill-advised interception led to the final score of the game reading 21-7 in favor of the Riverside Panthers.
So, with the final score reading 21-7, Riverside maintained their ownership of the Riv-Ell Cup as they celebrated on the Wolverines logo at the 50 yard line after most of the crowd had started to leave the stands. The Riverside Panthers hold the winning side of the two teams who now are 19-14 against the Wolverines since 1997.
With the win, the Panthers all but clinch a playoff spot, as they will look to do so with one more conference win. The Wolverines with the loss will look to bounce back against Mohawk next week (at Mohawk) as they know their hopes of a playoff spot have all but diminished. But with that being said, there are two more games to be played alongside the last game of the year being Senior night, where some players will play their last game as a Wolverine. You can catch all the replay action on our website and our YouTube Channel along with stats from the game and the season below.
Next Week: Ellwood City 2-6 (2-4) plays Conference leader Mohawk Warriors at Mohawk (FRI 7 PM)