Carver coach reacts to 44-7 Heritage Bowl win over Spencer
Devin “D.J.” Riles and the Carver Tigers found themselves in a bit of a tight spot, midway through the second quarter of the 2019 Heritage Bowl game against Spencer.
The Greenwave had just scored to cut the Tigers’ lead to 13-7, and the ensuing kickoff flew into the end zone.
It’s at this point where some teams mentally crumble. Against a rival, inside a packed stadium, facing a jazzed-up defense and the roar of the home crowd (Spencer was the designated “home” team this year), the pressure mounts. A simple miscommunication, an errant throw or an uncharacteristic mistake could derail a promising drive.
Riles did none of those things. He and the Tigers quickly regained control and momentum, and coasted to another Heritage Bowl win, 44-7 over the Greenwave.
As the crowd volume at field level grew, Riles took the shotgun snap. His running back, Khiari McCoy, standing beside him, bolted to the right. Riles hit his running back in stride, and McCoy did the rest.
80 yards later, the Tigers were celebrating in the end zone. The fans on the opposite side of the stadium were the ones doing the yelling now.
That sequence was, in essence, what this year’s Heritage Bowl was. If the Tigers felt like they “let the whole city down” by losing to Harris County last week, they probably won it back with their performance Friday night.
“We’ve got a good quarterback, man,” Carver head coach Corey Joyner said. “... And we’ve got a great offensive staff, that put him in a great position to make plays.”
Riles led the way. After a tough outing in Week 1, the sophomore responded by throwing for 283 yards on 12 completions, and added 34 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns.
Riles spent the majority of last season on Carver’s “B-Team.” As a freshman, he spent his first year developing into a true dual-threat quarterback while senior Jaylen Joyner took most of the first-team reps.
“He did a great job of just watching the game and understanding things to do,” Joyner said. “At the end of (the Heritage Bowl), he had great clock management. Those are the things that we ask him to do.”
Joyner’s offensive staff asked a lot of the sophomore Friday night, much like in the season-opener in Hamilton, Georgia. His ability to extend plays when the pocket breaks down is an aspect of his game that Joyner said is “invaluable.”
That “invaluable” skill was on full display Friday night. He inched away from a fifth passing touchdown, after escaping a collapsed pocket, scrambling to his left and launching a pass across his body. Had his receiver kept running, he’d have hit him in stride.
“He’s a dual-threat kid,” Spencer coach Robert Sanders said. “We knew he could run it and throw the ball. We couldn’t get a lot of pressure on him, and I thought he played a good game.”