Daily Staff Reports - firstname.lastname@example.org
GREENVILLE - Coming off its first loss of the season last week, Riverheads hit the reset button Friday against Stonewall Jackson.
The Gladiators looked like a completely different team.
Helmed by Michael Herndon, who made the switch to nose guard and created havoc all night, the Gladiators forced five fumbles, accumulated 330 yards rushing and cruised to a 49-14 win against the Generals.
"I thought our kids really bounced back from last week," Riverheads head coach Robert Casto said. "They really worked hard all week in practice. They were focused tonight. Our kids played hard, they were focused and they did what we asked them to do."
Cole Smiley led the Gladiators with 107 yards rushing and scored three times, including the game's first score just minutes into the contest and another 55-yard run with 5:10 remaining in the second quarter.
Sophomore Ben Agnor added 96 yards and two touchdowns, including a 26-yard scamper with 7:41 remaining in the second quarter that gave Riverheads a 42-0 lead going into halftime.
Riverheads scored on its first three possessions, using two fumble recoveries by Herndon which set up possessions inside its own 50-yard line. From there, the Gladiators did the rest, using just 19 plays to balloon the lead to 21-0.
"Mike [Herndon] is a Division I football player as a down linemen and that's where we're going to put him," said Casto, who moved Herndon to guard and quarterback Kendall Casto to middle linebacker with the absence of Randy Armstrong, who was out with an injury. "He caused havoc in there tonight."
The Gladiators failed to score on just two attempts in the first half, though one came seconds before half and featured a dropped pass in the red zone.
Kendall Casto was 3-for-8 for 49 yards.
After rushing down the field on the game's opening possession and scoring on just six plays, the Gladiators defense stepped up. They limited the Generals to three turnovers and two punts in the first half.
"I thought we really played the option well," Casto said. "Our kids played technique and they played their assignments really well."
To open the game, Herndon scored two straight tackles for a loss, then gobbled up a fumble recovery. He finished with three fumble recoveries on the game.
Stonewall Jackson added two scores in the second half, including a 8-play, 79-yard drive that finished with a 35-yard run by Daniel Buhl for a touchdown. Buhl was pressured all night in the pocket and finished with 24 yards rushing.
Joseph McCabe had 44 yards rushing for the Generals.