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Down early, RHS roars back to win 49-21
Riverton's Steven Reinig gained ground on a left sweep Friday night against Torrington at Wolverine Field. Riverton won 49-21. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Down early, RHS roars back to win 49-21

Oct 13, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Friday's victory over Torrington was Riverton's fouth straight of the 2013 football season.

Victimized by two big plays and trailing in the second quarter, the Riverton Wolverines had a chance to quit Friday night against Torrington.

They declined.

Storming back from two early deficits, the Wolverines exploded for 34 unanswered points and crushed the Trailblazers 49-21 in front of a swelling Homecoming throng at Wolverine Field.

It was the fourth straight win for RHS after two non-conference losses to start the season. At 4-2 overall, Riverton now stands 3-0 in the East 3-A conference.

The bounce-back on Friday was pushed and pulled by the strong legs of junior tailback Tristan White, the accurate arm of junior quarterback Brandon Fullerton, and a sparkling collection of downfield receivers who kept Torrington guessing play after play.

Defensive turnaround

And, after the wobbly start, the Wolverine defense turned positively mean, limiting Torrington to jet 27 rushing yards and just 68 yards passing after giving up more than that on just one play in the game's early stages.

Riverton head coach Pat Patterson said his team kept a level head and stuck to the game plan, with rewarding results.

"This is about as resilient as I have seen us," the first-year coach said. "We didn't panic."

No one would have blamed the Wolverines if they had considering two lightning-in-a-bottle touchdowns by Torrington in the opening minutes. Riverton had just taken an 8-7 lead on a 1-yard dive by White, who then tacked a 2-point conversion run. The RHS fans hardly had time to appreciate the effort because Torrington's Patrick Carr gathered in a long kickoff near his own goal line and rocketed 94 yards through the Riverton kicking team for a stunning touchdown that put the Blazers up 14-8.

The score was the third kick-return touchdown surrendered by Riverton in its last three games -- an area of concern heading into this Friday's game against Douglas that likely will determine the regular-season conference champ.

But Riverton never gave up a long kickoff return again on Friday -- and Torrington had lots of chances to try.

First, though, the Trailbazers victimized RHS for another long touchdown when quarterback Caden Coffelt found running back Trey Faessler on a deep post over the middle in a play that covered 73 yards on the first play from scrimmage after Fullerton had given Riverton the lead on a 9-yard keeper.

Fullerton's score had the look of a broken play rescued by the quick quarterback's feet, but the Torrington bomb unfolded straight from the playbook as Faessler split the Wolverine defensive backfield and couldn't be overtaken.

Turning point

With the crowd buzzing and Torrington fired up after the second long-distance touchdown, Riverton faced a turning point -- and picked the right direction. After Liam Vincent fielded a bouncing kickoff on the 29-yard line, Fullerton found Logan Hartbank on a 8-yard completion that softened up Torrington's defense enough for White to rip up the field on a 60-yard run to the Torrington 4-yard line. Sophomore Steven Reinig cleaned it up from there, gliding to the end zone for a 1-yard score. Dietrick Becker's kick put Riverton up 22-21 early int he second quarter -- and the Wolverines never looked back.

The defense put the squeeze on Torrington's previously lethal passing game, and the ensuing punt barely went 20 yards. RHS used eight plays to travel 56 yards for the score. A crucial 4-yard keeper by Fullerton kept the drive going on fourth down, and he tossed an easy 10-yard pass to Ian McMenamy for six more points.

Breaking point

Leading 28-21, the Wolverines broke Torrington immediately after the kickoff. Defensive end Caleb Richmond bear-hugged Coffelt into a fumble on the first play of the possession, then fell on the loose ball himself. Fullerton connected on three straight passers to Patterson, Keeton Zancanella and Patterson again, and the panting Torrington defense was fooled completely when Fullerton dropped back as if to pass again, then tucked the ball into White's belly on a perfect draw play that ended up as a 22-yard TD with less than a minute to play in the half.

"I love that balance," Coach Patterson said. "We mixed up the run and pass, and they could never get comfortable on defense."

Riverton's superior size became a dominant ingredient in the game as the temperature dropped and fog began to roll across the field in the second half. White and Fullerton both saw through the mist well enough to score a touchdown apiece, with White following a lead block by Rhett Rogge on a 4-yard run, and Fullerton capitalizing a handsome interception and near-touchdown return by Patterson with a 2-yard keeper.

Riding a big lead, Riverton's defense didn't hold back after the break, with Richmond, Casey Savage, Riley Reichert, William Herbst and Ty Cantrell notable in keeping Torrington frustrated on offense. Faessler's final nine carries went for just five yards total, while Coffelt threw three interceptions and had just 28 yards trough the air in the second half.

400-plus yards

Patterson was on the button with his observation on Riverton's balance offense. Led by White's 194-yard night, the Wolverines piled up 209 rushing yards, and Fullerton put up 210 in the air.

"When you can rush for 200 and pass for 200, you're doing exactly what you should be doing. Tristan had a great game."

Hartbank was Fullerton's top target, grabbing six passes for 116 yards. Patterson's four receptions amassed 51 yards.

Torrington 14 7 0 0 -- 21

Riverton 8 27 14 0 -- 49

First quarter

Torrington -- Faessler 1 run (McAnelly kick) 4:06

Riverton -- White 1 run (White run) 1:08

Torrington -- Carr 94 kick return (McAnelly kick) :54

Second quarter

Riverton -- Fullerton 9 run (Becker kick) 9:37

Torrington -- Faessler 73 pass from Coffelt (McAnelly kick) 9:21

Riverton -- Reinig 1 pass from Fullerton (Becker kick) 6:55

Riverton -- McMenamy 10 pass from Fullerton (kick failed) 3:22

Riverton -- White 22 run (Becker kick) :38

Third quarter

Riverton -- White 4 run (Becker kick) 3:03

Riverton -- Fullerton 2 run (Becker kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing

Torrington -- Coffelt 12-27, Faessler 9-5, Anderson 1-4

Riverton -- White 22-194, Reinig 8-24, Fullerton 7-17, Lewis 3-10, Rogge 2-3, Mathes 1-0

Passing

Torrington -- Coffelt 14-26-187 1TD 3 INT

Riverton -- Fullerton 15-22-201 2TD

Receiving

Torrington -- 7-119 TD, McAnelly 3-29. Anderson 2-25, Carr 1-10

Riverton -- Hartbank 6-116, Patterson 4-51, McMenamy 2-19 TD, Rogge 1-14, Reinig 1-1 TD,

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