Less than two minutes into Friday night’s game against Hammond, the Reservoir football team lined up for first-and-goal from the 2-yard line. It got there thanks to a 54-yard run from starting running back RiKye Torres, so the Gators handed him the ball on the next play, too.
As Torres neared the goal line, a Hammond player popped the ball out of his hands. The Golden Bears recovered. And for the Gators, it was the type of carelessness coach Bryan Cole saw in his team’s 35-21 loss to Mt. Hebron to open the season.
But unlike against the Vikings on Sept. 2, Reservoir (1-1) limited its mistakes from there on out in a dominating 42-6 win over the Golden Bears (0-3). Despite the early miscue, Torres rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“The guys played pretty technically sound,” Cole said. “When we needed to make some plays, we made them.”
Torres yearned to redeem himself after the fumble, and he was quickly afforded that opportunity when Hammond fumbled on their first offensive play.
Reservoir recovered at the 5-yard line, and Torres did the rest. Following a four-yard run, the junior punched it in from a yard out to give the Gators the lead less than three minutes into the contest.
“I had to come back and reward them for the fumble that I did,” Torres said, “so I had to come back and score a touchdown.”
Torres would find the end zone again in the third quarter, but by that point, the Gators held a comfortable advantage thanks to a slew of Hammond mistakes.
The Golden Bears fumbled again on their second offensive possession, allowing Reservoir to start their drive inside the 25-yard line. It wasn’t long before running back Brendon Peters ran over a defender on his way to a 15-yard touchdown. Add in Hammond’s errant punt snap and touchdowns from Reservoir wide receiver Justin Green — one rushing and one receiving — and the result was a 28-0 Gators advantage by halftime.
Ideally, Hammond coach Shawn Frederick wanted his team to use an I-formation to pound the ball on the ground. He hoped his players could use their speed and quickness to power the ball inside while finding room on the edges. The teams were similar in size, Frederick said, but he thought the Golden Bears’ athleticism could pose issues for Reservoir.
But facing an early hole impeded that offensive game plan.
“Turnovers has not been an issue for us this year, and to have two or three right off the jump in the first quarter, I mean that was tough,” Frederick said. “We as coach just got to get back at it this week...and emphasize some certain drills to emphasize ball security, playing to the whistle and making sure they know how to execute the offense and defense.”
Hammond did get on the scoreboard with an impressive drive to start the second half. A possession that began on their own seven ended with a two-yard scamper from running back Samuel Mercedes to make it, 28-6. However, that’s all the Golden Bears offense would be able to put up.
Reservoir, meanwhile, scored twice more to put the finishing touches on its first win of the year.
“When we do what we’re supposed to do and execute without the penalties, we’re going to have an opportunity to score points,” Cole said. “We didn’t do that Week 1 and we did that [Friday], and I think that’s the big difference.