McKinley and Riverside really like the brand new scoreboard at All High Stadium. The Jumbotron-wannabe located across from the grandstand displayed both teams winning by shutout in Harvard Cup semifinal games Saturday.
McKinley blanked Lafayette, 32-0, and Riverside downed Grover Cleveland, 24-0. The doubleheader was played in 38-degree temperatures as an estimated 1,500 watched both games.
The Macks (10-0), winners of 20 in a row, and Riverside (7-3) advanced to Thursday's 104th Harvard Cup Championship at 11 a.m.
It was McKinley's fifth shutout of the season. Riverside's last three wins have been by shutout.
McKinley jumped out to two quick scores as the overmatched Violets fumbled the first two times they touched the ball. The game was barely five minutes old when wide receiver Kevin Chillis caught a 32-yard pass from Tamere Shannon for the first score, and then Marquis Davis received a 9-yard pass from Shannon.
Chillis and Shannon would hook up for their 11th touchdown connection of the season on a 50-yard strike in the second quarter. Arvin Bell, playing on a tender ankle, added a 48-yard run for a 26-0 lead at the half. James Harris' 6-yard run in the fourth quarter completed the scoring.
"We have a connection. We've been playing for two years now," said Chillis, regarding his quarterback. "I just run my routes and he gets me the ball. That's all there is to it. We stay after practice. Practice pays off, hard work."
Running on a heavily taped ankle, Bell rushed for 122 yards to surpass 1,000. "I just have to keep icing it," said Bell, the Harvard Cup's Player of the Year. "The rush of a game, it doesn't hurt. I'll be all right."
Lafayette had a promising 15-play drive stall on the McKinley 10-yard line early in the second quarter. In the second half the Violets struggled to move past midfield.
Riverside kept Grover Cleveland from returning to the Turkey Day game by forcing five turnovers and beating them soundly between the tackles. Linebacker Antonio Dickson had three interceptions, including a 36-yarder for a score.
"When I saw [the receiver] cut real fast, I knew he was doing a quick out, and I kind of jumped in front of him," said Dickson. "I'd been reading [quarterback] Ernie [Maddox] all game, so I just broke down and caught the ball at an angle."
John Petty and Frank Pugh had fumble recoveries and Edwin Vega had eight tackles for Riverside.
Donnie Bender caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ajay Hopson for the game's first score in the second quarter. Riverside made it 16-0 on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter by Julius Davis. Dickson's interception return put the game out of reach for Grover Cleveland.
Grover Cleveland beat Riverside, 28-0, in their regular-season meeting in Week Two. It was evident all game long how much Riverside had improved since then.
"If we execute with the talent we have, we can beat anybody," said Riverside coach Tony Truilizio. "The bottom line is we have platoon football. We have an offensive side of the ball and a defensive side, and obviously we have our special teams. We have a total team this year."