CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Homecoming is always a special night, but Riverside made it even more memorable Friday.
The host Warriors rode three defensive touchdowns in a three-minute span in the fourth quarter to their first win of the season, a 42-13 decision over St. Albans. A crowd of about 3,500, Riverside's largest home crowd of the year, attended the Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.
Riverside (1-5) hasn't had much to cheer about, but in a short burst in the final period, it gave first-year coach Steven Freeman his inaugural victory.
The Warriors forced seven turnovers (four interceptions and three fumbles), coming up with six of those in the second half. They also recorded all three of their sacks in the final quarter.
"I think what tonight shows is we've played the best teams in the conference,'' said Freeman. "We've played every top-tier team whether it was a scrimmage our conference or a game. Our kids did not quit in those games.
"The scores were lopsided, but we kept playing hard. It just shows when you keep working hard . . . our kids have practiced hard every day. We've gotten after it and that's the difference. I give all of this to the kids.''
The Warriors entered the fourth quarter with a 21-13 lead over the Red Dragons (1-4), who employ a spread offensive attack behind junior quarterback Noah Reed, the fourth-best passer in the MSAC.
Riverside's defense, which was burned on long passes in the opening half as the Red Dragons took a 13-7 lead, rose up. Sophomore linebacker Mikeal Lipscomb sacked Reed and forced a fumble that freshman linebacker Clayton DeBoard scooped up and returned it 11 yards for a score and a 28-13 advantage with 9:35 left in the game.
On the ensuing Red Dragons' possession, junior linebacker Lance Hudnall stepped in front of a receiver at the Riverside 35-yard line and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown and a 35-13 lead. The Warriors weren't through, as junior defensive back Darius Booker turned Reed's fourth pick two plays later into a 35-yard TD return and a 42-13 bulge with 6:18 to go.
"[Defensive coordinator Danny Hill] talked to us at halftime and helped us out with our coverages,'' said Booker. "Really, just not get beat deep. The results were the picks.