There were some nervous home fans at halftime with the Crimson Tide leading just 14-7.
Those nerves were calmed in the second half, as Minden put up 35 points and secured their spot in round two of the Class 4A playoffs.
“It feels good,” Minden head coach Spencer Heard said. “It’s a sense of satisfaction to know the amount of work put in by these coaches and players paid off. The program is moving in the right direction.”
Tioga came out swinging and did all they could in search of an upset, but Antonio Rivette, Tavarius Edwards and L’Jarius Sneed would make enough plays on offense, and the Crimson Tide defense stepped up big when they needed to.
“It was very uncharacteristic of us,” Heard said of his team’s first half struggles. “We really challenged them at the half to come out and perform up to their abilities. I feel like we came out in the second half and stepped up to the plate.”
Rivette broke loose for an 80-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter and Sneed sealed the deal with a 22-yard touchdown run moments later.
Meanwhile, the Minden defense was spectacular, coming up with a number of big plays and forcing five Tioga turnovers.
Minden got on the board first with a 12-yard pass from Rivette to Kelcey Miller to make the score 7-0 with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
Tioga answered immediately with a touchdown drive to tie the game at 7-7, but on the Tide’s next drive Rivette found Sneed for a 29-yard touchdown in the back of the endzone. Pedro Hernandez hit the extra point to make the score 14-7.
In the third quarter, Rivette tossed his third touchdown of the night to a wide-open Tavarius Edwards for a 66-yard score to put Minden ahead, 21-7. After a stop by the Crimson Swarm, Rivette took a quarterback draw 80 yards to the house and the Tide led 28-7.
“I thought he gave us a phenomenal effort,” Heard said. “When things weren’t going well in the first half he kept his composure and led this team. It’s a big assett to have a kid like that.”
Tioga wouldn’t go quietly, rattling off a pair of touchdowns to keep Minden’s starters in the game and give their faithful followers some hope.
Those hopes were dashed late in the fourth quarter on a 50-yard touchdown pass to Edwards and then touchdown runs by Sneed and Rodtravion Rogers.
When the final horn blew, Minden celebrated a 49-21 win.
Rivette finished with over 400 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns.
Rivette threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns, and added 135 rushing yards and one score. Edwards put on a show, catching six passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Sneed with 4 catches for 57 yards and a score. Kelcey Miller finished the game with 3 catches for 38 yards and the Tide’s first touchdown and Rogers led all running backs with 74 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown.
Ty’Christopher Harris, Leonardo McCarter and Dekeltric Freelon all came up with big-time interceptions for the Tide.
The Tide will have their hands full this week, with No. 10 seed, Franklinton, coming to The Pit.
Stats courtesy of Mark Chreene at KASO/KBEF Radio