UPPER MARLBORO – National Christian Academy came into its high school football matchup with Riverdale Baptist undefeated at 8-0.
By boasting an unblemished record, one might have thought the Eagles were the favorites against a Crusaders’ team that was .500 entering the Oct. 27 contest.
Riverdale Baptist had other things in mind.
Led by their defense, which forced five turnovers and scored a safety, the Crusaders shutout National Christian at home, 42-0.
“On defense, we always play good every game,” said senior cornerback Daymon Williams, who had an interception return for a touchdown. “The run defense and pass defense. We always shut down. So, I’m not surprised that our defense did well.”
The game started off competitive in the first quarter as both defenses held each other’s offense scoreless. Halfway through the first quarter, Riverdale Baptist senior cornerback Jordan Norris forced the first turnover of the game by intercepting National Christian quarterback Damion Farmer.
Still, it was not until the start of the second quarter that Williams set the tone with his interception return.
“He ran a fly, I maintained, he threw it up, and I just made the play and had to take it all the way,” Williams said.
Williams was not the only playmaker in the game. Norris, who recorded an interception earlier, also made his presence known on offense.
With time winding down in the first half and Riverdale Baptist up 7-0, Norris caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jalen Lea to give the Crusaders a 14-0 lead heading into the break.
“I just try to help my team on both sides of the ball,” Norris said. “Just try to be a playmaker and make plays on both sides of the ball and help the team win.
“Me and (Lea) were on the same page, so I knew he was going to throw it up and he made a great throw. He put it right where it needed to be at and I just made the play.”
Riverdale Baptist left no question about who the stronger team was in the third quarter. The Crusaders forced two fumbles, in which they recovered both, and also picked off their third pass of the game.
Meanwhile, on offense, senior running back Rashard Jackson broke off a 35-yard touchdown run. His backfield partner, junior Jason Mackall, ran for a 19-yard touchdown in the quarter as well. Riverdale Baptist’s run game was nearly unstoppable as the group rushed for more than 200 yards as a team.
“Well, first I got to thank my line,” Mackall said. “I saw that hole open up so I had to hit it and I got the touchdown for my team.
“We played a great game. The line did what they were supposed to do. The quarterback did what he was supposed to do, and the backs did everything to their God-given abilities.”
Junior quarterback Justus McDougal came into the game and broke off a 69-yard run later in the fourth quarter. Although he did not get into the endzone that time, he made up for it with an 11-yard touchdown run later on in the quarter.
Riverdale Baptist moves to 5-4 on the season and has the St. Vincent Pallotti Panthers (2-7) up next.
“I think our defense played well,” Riverdale Baptist Head Coach Caesar Nettles said. “The guys played enthusiastically tonight, aggressive and ultimately they helped us out in a great deal tonight.
“We have talented running backs. We have three running backs and all of them can play at the next level. Tonight Mackall showed that the depth in our running back position is really good. He hit the holes well. Then, our quarterback is a sophomore. He has growing pains, but ultimately, he is an outstanding football player. And Jordan Norris is one of the best receivers in the state. He consistently makes plays for us every game. He bails us out all the time, and I’m just blessed to have them.”