M.L. King quarterback Roland Rivers threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers and ran for another in the Class AAAAA No. 5 Lions’ 49-10 win over Southwest DeKalb on Friday.
Passing-wise, the senior was a model of efficiency, putting up the big scoring numbers with just 195 yards on 13-of-16 passing, meaning more than one third of his completions finished in the end zone.
He also posted 50 yards on the ground, most of those coming on a 41-yard touchdown run on which Rivers broke several tackles and was nearly stopped at one point before breaking free and scampering in for the score.
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, his size is a factor in the passing game, but it was very much on display during the long touchdown run, when tacklers were hanging off him, trying to bring him to the ground.
They’re not the only ones trying in vain to get Rivers to go to the ground, but he doesn’t have it in him to give up on the play.
“My coaches, they always tell me they want me to take a knee,” Rivers said. “But there’s something inside of me; I’ve got to score. I had to get one in. I had to get in the end zone.”
That run may have been the most memorable play of the night, but the backbreaking drive came on the Lions’ first possession of the third quarter.
After the defense came up with a stop in its own territory, the offense took over at its own 6-yard line, leading 21-3.
There was no quick strike this time, as M.L. King (2-0) marched 94 yards in 10 plays, including a fourth-and-1 conversion near midfield. It ended with a 28-yard strike from Rivers to Romello Shumake that effectively ended any hope the Panthers (0-2) had of staging a comeback.
“We just keep trying to work on things, trying to get better,” M.L. King coach Cortez Allen said. “Being able to drive the ball down the field like that is going to help us down the road. So we want to make sure we’re primed and ready when those times come about.”
From that point, it turned into a rout, with the Lions pulling out to a 49-3 lead before a late Panthers score provided the final margin.
The biggest reason for the lopsided win was Rivers, and Allen said he played just like they expect him to on this night.
“Roland did a great job; he’s a great leader,” Allen said. “We’re just glad to have him at the helm.”
SWD 0 3 0 7 – 10
MLK 7 14 7 21 – 49
M – D’Angelo Holt 22 pass from Roland Rivers (Dwayne Taylor kick)
M – Safety: Lynd Parrish tackle
M – Presley Bray 26 pass from Rivers (kick failed)
M – Rivers 41 run
S – Marvin Ellis 24 FG
M – Romello Shumake 28 pass from Rivers (Taylor kick)
M – Raylan Elzy 5 pass from Rivers (run failed)
M – Savion Thrash 43 pass from Cedric Lynch (Jonathan Mathis run)
S – Travis Bacon 39 run (Ellis kick)