Bucs throttle Carlson in first-round playoff game

Riverview running back Christian Lopez had 79 rushing yards in the playoff win over Carlson.

Hank Minckiewicz
– RIVERVIEW REGISTER

On the scoreboard it was a close, tense game all night long. When the final stats were tallied, the totals were relatively close. But, in truth, Riverview totally dominated Carlson in its 22-8 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state playoff win on Nov. 1.

Want proof? Here it is.

Riverview ran 62 offensive plays to just 34 for the Marauders. That is an amazing stat. The Marauders had just eight possessions all night as the Bucs took the ball and kept it for long stretches of the game.

Riverview’s first possession of the night resulted in a 14-play, six-minute drive that resulted in a Jacob Puma touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

Early in the second half, Riverview put together a 12-play, five-minute march that ended with the Bucs scoring on a fumble recovery.

But the grandaddy of the game was a 13-play, 94-yard beauty that ended with a Christian Lopez one-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion that gave the Bucs a 22-8 lead with just 5:52 to play in the game and sent a big Carlson crowd heading for the exits.

Carlson had 251 total yards in the game – to Riverview’s 285 – but 197 of the Marauders’ yards came on just four plays. There was a 72-yard run, a 49-yard pass, a 48-yard pass and a 28-yard pass, none of which resulted in points.

That means Carlson’s other 30 plays in the game netted just 54 yards, an average of just 1.8 yards a play.

Carlson’s highly-touted quarterback Ian Stewart, who is committed to Michigan State University as a receiver, was largely ineffective. He did have a 14-yard run that resulted in his team’s only touchdown and then he completed a pass on the two-point play afterward. But the rest of his night was pedestrian. He passed for 125 yards, but completed just three of nine passes and most of the yardage came after his receivers caught short passes and ran long distances. 

The game may have turned in the closing seconds of the first half.

Riverview had a 12-play drive (another one!) that ended on downs at the Carlson 7-yard-line. The Marauders seemed content to run out the final 51 seconds and take an 8-8 tie into halftime, but then a Marauder running back got loose on the first play of the series and ran 72 yards to the Riverview 21 and suddenly Carlson was in a position to score and grab an unlikely lead.

But the Riverview defense rose up in the form of sophomore Cal Lockhart, who broke through the line on first down and sacked Stewart for a nine-yard loss. On second down, the Marauders tried to sweep the right end and again Lockhart sniffed it out and threw the running back for another five-yard loss.

Carlson coach Jack Giarmo had seen enough and on third down the Marauders ran into the middle of the line for no gain and went to the locker room.

Carlson fumbled on its first play of the second half and Riverview took over at the Marauder 42 and shoved its way down the field. The Bucs scored on a “fumblerooski” kind of a play, whether it was intentional or not.

On Carlson’s next possession a 49-yard pass play and a facemask penalty tacked onto the end put the Marauders on the Riverview 10-yard line,

Again, it was “defense to the rescue.” After holding Carlson to runs of one and two yards, the Bucs forced a pair of Stewart incompletions and got the ball back.

The offense said thank you by driving 94 yards for the game-clinching score.

The Bucs offense was run by committee on this night as Puma had 92 yards on 22 carries, Lopez had 79 yards on 18 carries and quarterback Brandon Maher had 37 yards on four carries. Jimari Moultrie and Ben Johnson also added valuable rushing yardage.

Riverview does not throw the ball much and they did not against Carlson, but when they did, Maher went out and made important throws and completions He was 3-of-5 for 47 yards. Lockhart caught two of Maher’s passes for 35 yards.

With the victory, Riverview advanced to the second round on Nov. 8 against Allen Park, a 39-15 winner over Trenton in its first 2019 playoff game.

The victory was the fifth in a row for Riverview (8-2). Since losing back-to-back game against Huron League runner-up Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and league champ Milan on weeks four and five, the Bucs have reeled off wins over Airport 14-13, Jefferson 26-2, Grosse Ile 24-10, Redford Thurston 43-25 and Carlson.

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