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Ridgway football will enter AML South play on a 3-game winning streak after a 19-0 victory over Cameron County Friday night at Memorial Field.
"It's a great feeling, I'm so proud of my kids right now," Ridgway coach Mark Heindl said. "What a heck of a defensive game our guys played. Offensively, we moved the ball, we showed some things that we can do. We got to capitalize more in the red zone. We're happy, we're 3-1 going into AML South divisional play, tied for first place. Our kids are excited right now and they have every right to be."
Eric Matheson opened the scoring with a 61-yard touchdown to the right on an off-tackle play to put the Elkers ahead 6-0.
"That's a credit to not only Eric but our offensive line as well, they opened some holes up. We still got some work we have to do with those guys," Heindl said. "We have to keep the momentum going on our side."
A personal foul on Ridgway on the extra point helped the Red Raiders get excellent field position at the Ridgway 47-yard line. Cameron County had the drive extended on a Ridgway pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-13 from midfield. Two plays later, Tucker Britton hit a pass to Zach Austin but the ball was stripped by Eric Matheson and recovered by the Elkers at the Ridgway 11-yard line. It would be Cameron County's best offensive chance of the game.
"They stepped up when they needed to," Heindl said. "These guys are resilient. When their backs are against the wall, I think that's the way they kind of like it. They really stepped up especially after we turned the ball over on the first play of the game. Give credit to the kids, they stuffed them, stepped up and got a nice drive going there."
Ridgway had a 17-play drive to end the first quarter after the fumble recovery but Ridgway would punt from the Cameron County 37-yard line. The teams then traded interceptions, Tony Leithner intercepted a pass for Ridgway and Britton returned the favor for the Red Raiders.
Entering the second half, the Red Raiders would line up in punt formation from its own 43-yard line on 4th-and-2. The Red Raiders would run Austin to the right but would be stuffed for a 3-yard loss. Britton intercepted his second pass on the next play to five the ball back to the Red Raiders but Cameron County went three-and-out.
Ridgway started from its own 25-yard line after the punt and picked up three first downs, highlighted by a 26-yard reception by Matheson. Ridgway punted from the Red Raider 37-yard line and pinned the Cameron County offense at the 7-yard line. Two plays later, the Red Raiders had a fumble on the exchange and Jake Himes recovered the ball for the Elkers in the end zone for Ridgway's second touchdown and a 12-0 lead after the 2-point conversion failed with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
"We decided going into the half whether we had good field position or not that we were going to punt the way our defense was playing," Heindl said. "All night, they put them in tough situations and there's an example. With the field conditions the way that they were, the kids really stepped up and took advantage of it. That's why we didn't hesitate one bit to punt it there. A credit to our coverage guys too. They got down there and put us in that position."
After a Red Raider punt, a Matheson 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put the lead to 19-0. Cameron County could not threaten on offense as the teams wound down the game.
After a Ridgway fumble to open the game at midfield, Cameron County garnered a pair of first downs but turned the ball over on downs at the Ridgway 28-yard line. The Elkers had another long drive which took up most of the second quarter as Ridgway would pick up three first downs. The drive started with 7:17 left in the second quarter and the Elkers methodically moved the ball as far as the Cameron County 19-yard line but turned the ball over on downs with under a minute to play in the half.
Cameron County had 49 yards in the first half, Ridgway had 163 total yards at halftime. For the game, Cameron County had 63 yards on offense.
"Coach (Manny) Barbazzeni and those kids, they do a phenomenal job," Heindl said. "Our front four, I can't say enough about them. (Alex) Oknefski, (Jared) Casolo, Cortland Smith, Chad Quail, they wreak havoc on the line of scrimmage and make it difficult for a lot of teams to move the ball. Our linebacking corps stepped up and made plays when they needed to. What a great group."
Cameron County Mark Morelli said Ridgway has done a good job of taking advantage of mistakes from other teams.
"Coming in, Ridgway has preyed on other teams' turnovers," Morelli said. "They made most teams pay dearly for it. They kept up that same defensive play and that's a tribute to coach Barbezzeni, he has those kids flying to the football. We couldn't get anything established offensively and they took advantage of our mistakes. I wish Ridgway well and I hope they keep things going in the right direction."
Ridgway opens play in the AML South against Brockway (2-2) next Friday with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.
Cameron County 0 0 0 0 - 0
Ridgway 6 0 6 7 - 19
R - Eric Matheson 61 run (kick failed), 8:32
R - Jake Himes fumble recovery in end zone (run failed), 2:48
R - Matheson 6 run (Matheson kick), 10:42
CC Team stats Ridgway
4 First downs 13
27-23 Rushes-yards 46-213
40 Passing yards 48
63 Total yards 261
4-2 Fumbles-lost 1-1
4-21 Penalties-yards 10-80
Passing: Cameron County: Tucker Britton 3-11-40-0-2. Ridgway: Jordan Lundin 4-9-48-0-2.
Rushing: Cameron County: Nick Stuckey 9-25, Tony Olivett 4-7, Zach Austin 10-2, Tucker Britton 8-(-11). Ridgway: Eric Matheson 11-94, Sam Delhunty 14-78, Jordan Lundin 9-27, Logan Wickett 6-13, Brett Himes 1-2, Joe Jaques 2-0, Mike Cappiello 3-(-1).
Receiving: Cameron County: Zach Austin 2-32, Nick Stuckey 1-8. Ridgway: Eric Matheson 3-41, Jake Himes 1-7.