Defense and Special Teams Enable Ridgway to Defeat Brockway 20-7
Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
They say defense and special teams win football games. Ridgway adhered to that adage Friday evening at Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway when they defeated the home team 20-7. While Ridgway’s physical and swarming defense forced two turnovers, limited Brockway to 191 yards and only seven points, the Elker special teams scored a touchdown and continued to give the offense good field position. On the flip side, the Ridgway kicking game kept the Rovers pinned deep in their own territory the whole game. In fact, Brockway’s average starting position on each of their eleven drives was at their own 18.
This was a huge game in the District 9 Large School Division as both teams entered the contest undefeated at 4-0 and it did not disappoint. Brockway won the coin toss and elected to defer their choice till the second half. That meant Ridgway would receive to begin the game.
Jake Wickett returned the opening kick 53 yards to Brockway’s 45. From there, The Elkers methodically marched into the end zone, using nine plays and taking over four minutes off the clock. Signal caller, Paul Gresco snuck it in from a yard out to put the first score on the board at the 7:40 mark. The point after hit the left upright and Ridgway led 6-0.
Throughout the first half Ridgway constantly knocked on the door, but could not add to their score. On their next four possessions they drove to midfield, Brockway’s 40, Brockway’s 1, and Brockway’s 38. Each time, the Rover defense stiffened forcing Ridgway to punt or Brockway stopped them on fourth down. The latter was the case when Ridgway went for it at the Rover one. Gresco tried another sneak, but was stuffed like a turkey for no gain.
Meanwhile, Ridgway limited the Rovers to a total of two first downs and 50 net yards in eighteen plays for the first 24 minutes of the game. Brockway got no further than their own 45 for the entire first two quarters as Ridgway repeatedly stopped the black and red for short gains on the ground. When the Rovers chose to pass, the Elkers put pressure on QB Peter Downer, forcing him to hurry his throws and twice sacking him.
The second half started out no different from the first as a short Elker kickoff bounced over the receiver’s head and was eventually recovered by Brockway at their nine-yard line. On third down, Downer’s pass was picked off by Daunte Allegretto and returned to the Brockway 29. A penalty on the interception return moved the ball to Brockway’s 40.
This time Ridgway used over five minutes and 10 plays before scoring on a Matt Dush 8-yard sweep. Gresco found Dush for the two-point conversion and Ridgway led 14-0 with 5:39 left in the third.
Beginning at their 24, Brockway suddenly came to life offensively. Tyler Serafini travelled twelve yards on two carries, followed by a thirty-yard pass from Downer to Garrett McClintock. Another 10 yards by Serafini garnered the Rover’s third first down of the drive. Then three plays netted only four yards leaving Brockway with a fourth and six at Ridgway’s 20. Downer escaped the blitz enough to launch a pass into the end zone to a wide-open Ben Glasl to put Brockway on the scoreboard. Zane Puhala’s PAT cut Ridgway’s lead in half, 14-7, with 2:58 still on the third quarter clock.
Brockway’s new-found momentum forced Ridgway to punt after going three and out for the only time on the night. But Ridgway’s defense returned the favor. Puhala’s punt rolled to Ridgway’s five-yard line where Wickett picked up the ball after an Elker knocked the closest Rover cover man out of the way. Wickett wove his way fifty-six yards to Brockway’s 38, but a penalty negated some of that.
Eventually, Gabe Watts punted to the Brockway 8 putting the home team deep in their end of the field. On third down, a pass to Serafini lost six yards back to the two. Puhala’s subsequent punt was a short one that was picked up at the thirty-one by Dush, who found some daylight and managed to traverse his way to a touchdown. The PAT was blocked, but the Elkers were up with under nine minutes to go, 20-7.
Brockway mounted one more drive into Ridgway territory, but Allegretto intercepted his second pass to seal the deal for the maroon and white.
Game Notes: Ridgway’s offense accounted for 251 yards and they returned six kicks (2 kickoffs and 4 punts) for another 189 yards. The Elkers registered four sacks with Damon Kelly in on two and a half of them. Dush led the Ridgway running game with 64 yards. Gresco and Watts combined to go 9 for 12 passing for 88 yards. Serafini led all rushers with 79 yards. Downer was 7 for 23 with a touchdown and the two interceptions. Elker Evan Furlong literally bowled right through 3 Brockway tacklers on a screen pass. Jon Wood and Josh Solnosky left the game with injuries in the second quarter for the Rovers and did not return. Ridgway is now 5-0 and hosts the Punxsutawney Chucks next Friday. Brockway falls to 4-1 and will travel to Bradford for a meeting with the Owls.
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