THE PLAINS, Ohio — The clock struck midnight.
The River Valley football team had any remote chance of making a second consecutive Division V postseason go by the wayside Friday night following a 25-15 setback to host Athens in a Week 9 Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup at Rutter Field in Athens County.
The Raiders (6-3, 3-3 TVC Ohio) never led in the contest, but the guests managed to keep things scoreless through one period of play.
The Bulldogs (7-2, 5-0), however, finally broke into the scoring column in the second canto after Andy Kostival scored on a four-yard scamper with 8:17 left until halftime, making it a 7-0 contest.
River Valley had its fortunes take a bad bounce just 17 seconds later as Gage Penrod recovered a fumble and ran it 25 yards to the house, giving AHS a 14-0 advantage with eight minutes left in the first half.
The Raiders quickly responded as Layne Fitch returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards, then Jaykob Mabe scored on a four-yard run that allowed RVHS to close to within 13-6 at the 7:40 mark of the second canto.
Athens maintained that seven-point cushion headed into halftime.
The Raiders received the second half kickoff and strung together an 18-play drive that resulted in points, but not the kind the guests were hoping for.
Devin McDonald booted a 28-yard field goal with 4:56 left in the third canto, pulling the Raiders to within four points at 13-9.
The Bulldogs recovered a River Valley onside kick attempt, then put together consecutive running plays that led to points as Mikel Casteel scored from three yards out — allowing the hosts to extend their lead to 19-9 with 3:10 remaining.
After nearly a quarter of trading possessions, Athens drove the proverbial nail in the coffin after Treyce Albin hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Brendan Sano for a 25-9 advantage with 4:50 left in regulation.
The Raiders answered with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Tre Craycraft from Patrick Brown with 2:05 left, which ultimately concluded the scoring at its 10-point outcome.
Athens outgained the Silver and Black by a slim 354-332 overall margin in total yards of offense, with the Bulldogs claiming a 228-132 advantage in yards on the ground.
Each team accumulated 16 first downs and committed at least two turnovers in the contest, but AHS did finish the night plus-1 in turnover differential. The Green and Gold were penalized three times for 39 yards, while the guests were flagged twice for 10 yards.
Craycraft led the RVHS rushing attack with 56 yards on six carries, followed by Jacob Campbell with 49 yards on 10 attempts and Mabe with 15 yards on five totes.
Patrick Brown completed 14-of-31 passes for 200 yards, throwing one TD and one pick. Brown also ran 20 times for a dozen yards.
Craycraft led the River Valley wideouts with nine grabs for 126 yards. Mabe also hauled in two passes for 15 yards in the setback.
Sano paced Athens with 135 yards on 17 carries, followed by Casteel with 62 yards on 13 rushing attempts. Sano was also 9-of-17 passing for 126 yards, throwing one TD and one interception.
Albin led the Bulldogs with four catches for 84 yards, while Kostival had two grabs for 27 yards.
River Valley — which has now concluded TVC Ohio play — will host Waverly on Senior Night in a non-conference matchup Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.