Three years ago, Jaylen Riley was coming back from open heart surgery after doctors found out his left heart valve was leaking backward.
Friday night, the Vance senior wide receiver had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars, No. 11 in the Observer Sweet 16, to a 55-0 rout of No. 12 Monroe.
Cougars senior running back Kalen Clark rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Vance (1-1) got off to a slow start, committing four penalties in its first eight plays before punting.
Never miss a local story.
On the next drive, though, Riley had three catches for 51 yards, including two third-down conversions to spark the offense.
Riley hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nigel Summerville to cap the drive.
After stopping on the next drive, Vance scored on three consecutive possessions in the last 2 minutes, 37 seconds of the first quarter via offense, defense and special teams.
The first score came when Riley hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Summerville.
Six plays later, Vance junior Javeon Masson picked up a fumble and raced 45 yards for another score.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Cougars senior Robert Leach picked up another Redhawks fumble and scored from 10 yards out to give his team 28-0 advantage after the first quarter.
While the Vance offense was rolling, the defense was equally impressive, forcing five turnovers and never letting the Redhawks get any momentum.
Senior running back Markilius Williams scored two second-quarter rushing touchdowns, and Riley (touchdown catch) and Clark finished off the scoring for the Cougars.
Monroe (1-1) struggled all night, but was led by junior quarterback Trey Shepherd, who passed for 91 yards. Senior running back McKinley Nelson rushed for 60 yards.
Quote: “All week we had a bad taste in our mouths after losing (42-19 to West Mecklenburg in opener). Tonight, our guys wanted it a little bit more, we’re a little hungrier. We wanted to get back (on track).” –Vance coach Aaron Brand
Records: Vance 1-1; Monroe 1-1.
Worth mentioning: Vance’s Riley, who started his career at Independence, has come a long way since having open heart surgery and says he hopes to play college football. Army, Michigan State and Wesleyan Universityare showing interest, he said.
Monroe was 31-3 over the past two-plus seasons coming into the Vance game, and hadn’t been shut out since Nov. 4, 2005, a 41-0 loss to Forest Hills.
What’s next: Both teams will return to action next Friday night, with Monroe hosting winless Hopewell, while Vance travels to Rocky River.