Burton's defensive front was a source of constant peril for Eastside QB Caleb Riner. The Spartans signal-caller passed for 185 yards, keeping hope alive through the third quarter. (Ned Jilton II photo)
NORTON — A virtually uncontrollable pass rush by the J.I. Burton defensive front preoccupied Eastside’s potent passing attack Friday night, lending the Raiders momentum for a 29-16 Cumberland District win at Lawson-Fitchko Stadium.
The Spartans (3-3, 1-1) got 185 passing yards from quarterback Caleb Riner, who cut Burton’s lead to 21-8 with an 8-yard scoring run capped by a 2-point conversion pass to Justin Banks with 7:40 remaining in the third period.
The Eastside signal-caller also got sacked six times for minus-61 yards, contributing to a net of minus-56 yards rushing for the game.
Riner was so effectively corralled by Peyton Stallard (6-foot-3, 275 pounds), Dakota Noble (6-1, 225) and Savon Wadsworth (6-1, 295) that he often had to risk huge losses to elude capture.
Wadsworth further complicated matters for Eastside by dumping a portion of his considerable kinetic energy on 185-pound center Tim Craiger. Riner had a progressively more difficult time fielding Craiger’s shotgun snaps as the game wore on. Two went over the QB’s head entirely for big losses.
The Raiders (3-3, 2-0) weren’t entirely lacking heroics from kids in the classic Norton mold. Slotback Tyler Justiniano opened the second half with an 85-yard kickoff return that put Burton up 21-0. Enough cushion, it turned out, to weather Eastside’s inevitable offensive surges.
Burton quarterback Tra Adams passed for 82 yards, including his 44-yard scoring strike to Cobye Robbins with no time remaining in the third period. Adams, who had a 1-yard TD plunge in the second quarter, hit Kelly Thompson with the 2-point conversion throw for the 29-8 advantage.
Thompson, who lined up in the slot, led the Raiders with 105 yards rushing. Running back Drake Bowen logged 43 yards, including a 6-yard TD run that initiated scoring in the first quarter.
J.D. Slone (4 catches, 54 yards), Kobe Lawson (6 catches, 61 yards) and Banks (7 catches, 60 yards) led the Eastside receiving corps.
Read more in the Saturday print edition of the Times-News or in the expanded electronic edition.