"The coaches had faith in me,'' Cunningham said. "I did what I had to do when they called my number.''
Grier, one of the state's passing leaders, never seemed to get comfortable on the crisp evening, as he attempted a season-low 15 throws, completing eight for 183 yards, with four of his passes dropped.
His three long completions -- TDs of 67 yards to Marquel Hampton, 35 yards to Kevin Forrest and 39 yards to Cunningham -- all came on short throws into the flat that turned into big gainers. He was just 1 of 2 in the second half, the screen to Cunningham.
Riverside, which has played a brutal schedule (seven of its first nine opponents have winning records, and five were ranked in the top 12), showed flashes of promise for the future, which pleased first-year coach Steven Freeman.
"We were missing three starters today,'' Freeman said, "and with that and with the way our kids played tonight, we're proud of those kids. They played hard. We played a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores and they really played hard. South Charleston is a good football team -- a lot of explosive athletes. We're just proud of the way we came out and fought the whole game.
"We didn't tackle well, and we turned the ball over too much [two lost fumbles], and that's uncharacteristic of us. When you plug young guys in like that and it's cold and it's hard to get used to carrying the ball, especially in live action like that, that makes it tough. We're young, and it shows when we get in the open field sometimes.''
Riverside lost fumbles at its own 45 and own 27, but on the latter kept SC out of the end zone with a stirring goal-line stand at its own 1 as the first half ended.
The Warriors also scored on a 58-yard dash by Wilkinson and field goals of 27 and 31 yards by Derik Chestnut.
SC linebacker Jay Richardson came up with four sacks and fumble recovery.
Last year, SC went 6-4 but became the first MSAC team since Nitro in 1999 to miss out on a postseason berth with six victories, finishing in a tie for 17th -- one spot out of the 16-team field.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.