(Council Bluffs) -- An explosive night on offense led Riverside to a 2-0 start and their first victory over St. Albert in two decades.
The Class A No. 8 and KMAland A/1A/2A No. 4 Bulldogs edged their Class A District 7 foe in a wild 49-36 shootout on Friday night.
"I'm extremely excited," said Riverside head coach Darrell Frain. "St. Albert has an unbelievable tradition, and we are trying to build that. I told the guys if we have one more than they do, I will be happy. We finished alright now."
Before Friday night, Riverside's last win over St. Albert was a state quarterfinal victory in 2001 -- 15 tries ago.
"When I came here, our goal was to get in a position to beat those guys," Frain said.
"We made a few mistakes, but we corrected them and came out on top," said senior quarterback Austin Kremkoski.
The first 12 minutes of the game was a wild, high-scoring affair with 43 points.
Riverside opened the game with a six-play, 76-yard drive, capped by a seven-yard rushing score from Kremkoski. A miscue on the kickoff gave the Bulldogs the ball deep in St. Albert territory. They capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown rush from Rhett Bentley to take a 13-0 lead only five minutes into the game. A 70-yard kick return for a touchdown from Brendan Monahan whittled the lead down to 13-7. He soon gave the Falcons a 14-13 lead with another big play, this time on an interception return for a score with exactly five minutes left in the quarter. The lead came despite St. Albert having yet to register a play on offense.
The craziness wasn't over, either, as the Falcons recovered a fumble on the kickoff deep in Riverside territory and capitalized with a 32-yard field goal from Brayden Shepard to push their lead to 17-13. A four-yard touchdown run from Bentley and a 41-yard touchdown toss from Monahan to Sam Gubbels brought the score to 24-19 St. Albert after one quarter.
"I was worried," Coach Frain said about the wild first quarter. "But our kids stepped up. That's all we can ask for."
Riverside quickly regained the lead in the second quarter with Bentley's third score of the night from 12 yards to take a 27-24 lead. A St. Albert punt put the Bulldogs in prime position to extend their lead, which they did with Bentley's fourth score of the half -- a 30-yard pass from Kremkoski -- to take a 35-24 lead into the half.
St. Albert whittled the margin back to one possession with a 69-yard touchdown from Monahan to Dan McGrath in the final minute of the third quarter, trimming Riverside's lead to 35-30.
Another stop primed the Falcons offense for a go-ahead drive, which they did with an acrobatic nine-yard touchdown catch from McGrath to take a 36-35 lead with 8:15 remaining.
The lead only lasted 15 seconds, though, as Kremkoski masterfully kept the ball on a read-option and scurried 63-yards for a touchdown, giving Riverside a 43-36 lead.
"I saw the hole open up and saw grass," he said. "It was a great feeling."
St. Albert moved the ball to midfield on the next drive, but it stalled when Grady Jeppesen snagged an interception. Kremkoski's third rushing score -- a 45-yard run with 5:12 remaining made the score 49-36, effectively handing Riverside the win.
"It was nerve-wracking and exciting," Kremkoski said about the game. "We took it play by play and always scratched the last play."
"For some reason, I hadn't run the quarterback all night," Frain joked. "Then I call two, and he puts it out of reach. Maybe there could have been smarter play-calling on my part, but it worked out."
Kremkoski and Bentley sparked the Bulldogs with an astounding 616 total yards of offense, 427 of which came on the ground.
"We knew running the ball had to be a thing," Coach Frain said.
Bentley's no-nonsense downhill style created problems for St. Albert's defenders throughout the night, as the senior posted 229 yards and three scores on 26 totes.
"My line was busting their butts," he said. "They feed off of me."
"Rhett ran the ball hard," Coach Frain said. "That's all I can ask for."
Kremkoski, meanwhile, relied on a pair of big runs to post 166 yards and three scores on the ground. He also threw for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Jace Rose was Kremkoski's favorite target, snagging four passes for 52 yards while Nolan Moore had four catches for 40 yards and Bentley posted 45 receiving yards.
"Their leadership stepped up tonight," Frain said about Kremkoski and Bentley.
The win is another step in the right direction for a Riverside program less than a decade removed from a 30-game losing streak that spanned 1,414 days.
"We ain't done yet," Bentley said. "We have a long way to go. This is just the start."
"They've bought in," Coach Frain said. "Now it's our turn. We can take that next step."
Riverside's next step comes next Friday when they face Mount Ayr in a Class A District 7 contest. The Raiders edged Central Decatur in a 34-27 thriller on Friday night.
"We have to make sure we are ready for them to run right at us," Frain said. "Hopefully, we have a chance to put some points up in the end."
Monahan paced St. Albert's offense with 205 passing yards and three scores on 11 completions and 53 rushing yards. McGrath led the receiving corps with 113 yards while Gubbels added 55. The Falcons (0-2) return to action against Underwood next week.
After the game, KMA Sports spoke with Kremkoski, Bentley and Coach Frain. View those interviews, as well as the entire game broadcast, below.