When the Hurricanes senior finally got in the game after halftime, he practically set the field at Milford Mill on fire.
Riffe rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, all in the second half, leading No. 11 Huntingtown to a convincing 34-6 win over Milford Mill.
The Hurricanes (12-1) advance to play No. 6 River Hill (13-0) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, aiming to win the first state championship in school history.
“You’ve always got to be ready,” Riffe said. “They called my number so I just did what I had to do.”
Huntingtown Coach Brendan Galligan had split carries between Riffe and junior Arnez Bowens all season, but hadn’t planned ahead of time for Riffe to get so many second-half touches on Saturday.
Bowens lost two of the Hurricanes’ three first-half fumbles, and even though he had 12 carries for 87 yards before halftime, Galligan decided to switch things up to start the third quarter with Huntingtown clinging to a six-point lead.
“We just rode the hot hand this afternoon,” Galligan said. “[Carl] had the opportunity and he jumped in there and ran well for us.”
Huntingtown dominated possession the entire afternoon Saturday, but the three fumbles and two turnovers on downs inside the Milford Mill 20 allowed the Millers to stay close.
Junior place kicker Noah Reeves booted two field goals from 36 and 31 yards out late in the first half, giving Huntingtown just a tenuous 6-0 lead at halftime against Milford Mill (11-2), who had scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games.
“It was a big game against a good team and we had a lot of nerves early,” senior linebacker Josh Woodburn said. “Once we got into it though, we were ready to play.”
Woodburn led a defense that largely shut down Milford Mill’s dynamic left-handed quarterback Kyle McEachern, who failed to find a rhythm with Woodburn shadowing him all game, and finished just 7 for 17 for 71 yards and an interception.
Bowens scored Huntingtown’s first touchdown on a seven-yard run to make it 13-0 with 4:08 to play in the third quarter, and Riffe carried the ball on all but two Huntingtown plays the rest of the game.
Running behind a dominant offensive line, Riffe first found the end zone on an 11-yard run up the middle that capped a 10-play drive to give Huntingtown a 20-0 lead with 9:51 to play.
He sandwiched insurance touchdowns from nine yards out and one yard out around Milford Mill’s lone score, sealing the win to send Huntingtown back to the state final for the second time in four years.
As the wind whipped around him afterward and the temperatures dipped into the 30s, Riffe stayed cool.
“I got like seven shirts on,” Riffe said. “I’m fine.”