BROCKWAY – Touchdowns before and after halftime provided a major momentum shift for the Brockway Rovers to a 30-22 win over Ridgway Friday night at Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway.
Ridgway (3-2 overall, 0-1 AML South) trailed 9-7 with 2:28 left in the first half and the Rovers took possession from its own 20-yard line and marched down the field in nine plays. Right before halftime, the Rovers faced a 2nd-and-9 from the 21-yard line of Ridgway. Brockway (3-2 overall, 1-0 AML South) quarterback Kyle Braun scrambled around in his backfield looking for an open man and eluding defenders before finding a wide open Ryan States with two seconds left to put Brockway ahead 16-7 at halftime.
Ridgway coach Mark Heindl said the touchdown before halftime was especially critical.
"It was huge. It's one of those things with momentum that we stress to our kids week in and week out," Heindl said. "When the other team has the momentum you have to take it away from them. Going into the half when we scored right away, we thought we'd go in 9-7. They hit that touchdown pass there, the kid scrambled, we thought we had him wrapped up. It was a good job on his part finding his receiver. That's just the breaks of the game."
Ridgway then received the second-half kickoff and promptly turned the ball over as States intercepted a pass for the Rovers and returned the ball to the Ridgway 11-yard line. Brockway then took advantage of the turnover and subsequent good field position. On 4th-and-1 at the 2-yard line, Braun ran a keeper and tried to stretch for the goal line but fumbled the ball. Offensive lineman Cody Overturf appeared to come out of the pile in the end zone with the ball and the touchdown to put Brockway ahead 23-7 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
Ridgway was into Brockway territory on its ensuing drive, aided by a 25-yard run from Mike Cappiello. Ridgway turned the ball over on downs at the 32-yard line.
Brockway running back Tom Vervoort then ripped off runs of 25 and 16 yards to set up the Rovers at the Ridgway 30-yard line. Vervoort led all rushers with 135 yards on 15 carries.
"He's a man among boys," Heindl said. "That's one of the kids we stressed all week about, Mr. Vervoort there. He didn't play too much last week in Coudersport but we knew we would see a lot of him. He's a physical kid and that's a credit to Brockway and his coaching staff, they did a good job and just came right at us."
Three plays later, Braun ran the ball to the corner and was out of bounds at the 1-yard line which set up a 1st-and-goal. However, Brockway fumbled and Ridgway's Steve Mitchell recovered. Ridgway fumbled the ball three plays later at the Brockway 22 and the Rovers took advantage as Braun found Jacob Perrin in the far corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown connection and a 30-7 lead for Brockway with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
Ridgway responded quickly on its next possession as the Elkers started from the 20-yard line, a familiar sight as Brockway kicker Phil Esposito had touchbacks on every kickoff from the 40-yard line. Quarterback Jordan Lundin had a 37-yard run on a keeper as the Elkers faced a 3rd-and-12 from its own 15-yard line. Sam Delhunty then ripped off a criss-crossing 44-yard run which set up Ridgway at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Eric Matheson ran a pitch into the end zone to make the margin 30-14 with 9:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Ridgway tried an onside kick but Brockway recovered to set up the Rovers near midfield. Braun appeared to have a 55-yard touchdown run on a 3rd-and-15 which may have put the game out of reach but a tripping penalty on Brockway's offensive line took the points off the board. Brockway would have to punt back to the Elkers.
Ridgway then marched 79 yards to move within one score. Matheson had a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left and then Lundin found Jake Himes on a pass play to make the margin 30-22. Matheson finished with 63 yards rushing on 15 carries and four receptions for 59 yards.
The Elkers tried an onside kick but the Rovers recovered to seal the game as Ridgway had no timeouts left.
"These are the cardiac kids," Heindl said. "Just when you think that their backs are against the wall and when things are ready to fold up, the kids again battled back. We just ran out of time. As the game unfolded, we put ourselves in position throughout the game. We just couldn't capitalize. We forced some turnovers, we got them in some 3rd-and-long situations. The second half, we put ourselves in position."
Ridgway was outgained 260-83 in the first half but the Elkers had 217 yards in the second half compared to Brockway's 62. Brockway finished by outgaining Ridgway 322-298.
"We made some adjustments at the half," Heindl said. "We knew coming out that first drive was pivotal on offense but we turned it over. As the game unfolded in the second half, our kids were able to establish drives. We got some work that we have to do."
Brockway opened the game with a 7-play drive but could not get any points as the Elkers blocked a 37-yard field goal. Ridgway went three-and-out and the Rovers then added a 39-yard field goal from Esposito who was kicking with the wind at his back in the opening 12 minutes.
Braun sprinted in front of the Ridgway sideline for a 51-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to make the lead 9-0 after a bad snap on an extra point.
"Braun, it's the same thing. He's one of those kids that you think you have contained and he can break one at any given time," Heindl said. "There was one or two breakdowns that we had but for the most part, we kept him contained there."
Ridgway would then have an 11-play drive but would turn the ball over as Braun intercepted a halfback pass for the Rovers. Brockway turned it over on the next play as Himes recovered a fumble at the Brockway 15-yard line. Cappiello then ran to his left for a 15-yard touchdown run to put the Elkers within two at 9-7 with 2:28 left before halftime. Cappiello led the Elkers with 73 yards rushing on 11 carries as he was put into duty for an injured Logan Wickett.
"Mike, he stepped up big for us," Heindl said. "What a great night for Mike, not only defensively but offensively, he just broke some big plays and got us some first downs that kept drives alive for us."
Ridgway is scheduled to host Johnsonburg (0-5 overall, 0-1 AML South) next Friday at 7 p.m.
"Our kids will refocus, they got a big game next week against Johnsonburg and we're trying to bring the trophy back home," Heindl said. "The kids will be ready to play."
Ridgway 0 7 0 15 - 22
Brockway 3 13 14 0 - 30
B - Phil Esposito 39 field goal, 2:18
B - Kyle Braun 51 run (conversion failed), 10:06
R - Mike Cappiello 15 run (Eric Matheson kick), 2:28
B - Ryan States 21 pass from Braun (Esposito kick), :02
B - Cody Overturf fumble recovery in end zone (Esposito kick), 8:03
B - Jacob Perrin 9 pass from Braun (Esposito kick), :49
R - Matheson 1 run (Matheson kick), 9:44
R - Matheson 5 run (Jake Himes pass from Jordan Lundin), 1:10
Team stats Ridgway Brockway
First downs 12 15
Rushes-yards 45-225 27-247
Passing yards 73 75
Total yards 298 322
Fumbles-lost 1-1 6-2
Penalties-yards 5-38 9-90
Passing: Ridgway: Jordan Lundin 5-11-73-0-1, Eric Matheson 0-1-0-0-1. Brockway: Kyle Braun 6-10-75-2-0.
Rushing: Ridgway: Mike Cappiello 11-73, Eric Matheson 15-63, Sam Delhunty 8-46, Jordan Lundin 11-43. Brockway: Tom Vervoort 15-135, Kyle Braun 21-98, Chad Melillo 10-36, Levi Miller 1-0.
Receiving: Ridgway: Eric Matheson 4-59, Jake Himes 1-14. Brockway: Levi Miller 3-43, Ryan States 1-21, Jacob Perrin 1-9, Steve Sette 1-2.