Garnet Valley Shocks Ridley
The last time the Garnet Valley Jaguars and the Ridley Green Raiders met was almost a year ago at Garnet Valley. The Jaguars won big, 41-28, and were crowned Central League Champions in just their first year in the Central League as the Jaguars ran the table. This year the Jaguars head to Ridley to try and defend their title. With a win the Garnet Valley Jaguars would only co-share the Central League Championship with Ridley since Ridley is undefeated and Garnet Valley lost earlier in the year to Conestoga. The 8-0 undefeated Green Raiders were looking to beat Garnet Valley and take the title back.
On the Jaguars second offensive series they put the football into the hands of their junior running back, Alex Warden. After a 73 yard run down to the goal line by Warden, he finished off the long run with a short one yard touchdown carry to quickly quiet the Ridley crowd and put the Jags up 7-0.
The Green Raiders would tie the game six minutes later on a play action keeper by Ridley’s senior quarterback, Colin Masterson. Nearing halftime Ridley threatened to score again. On a field goal attempt by senior Tom Bongiorno the football was miss held and fumbled. Garnet Valley recovered the fumble at their own 14 yard line.
The Jaguars once again marched down the field. The Jaguars did not reach the end zone but did setup a field goal attempt for their senior kicker Dan Acchione. The 30 yard field goal was good and Acchione put the Jaguars on top 10-7 heading into halftime. Again Acchione stepped up and kicked another 30 yards plus (31yards) field goal mid third quarter to give the Jaguars a six point lead.
Ridley led Garnet Valley for the first time of the night after Masterson hooked up with Dion Shaw in the left corner of the end zone for a 9 yard touchdown pass. With Ridley up by one point the only way the Jaguars were to come back would be their defense. Junior linebacker for the Jaguars, Jeremy Irving, had three huge second half sacks in the game. Irving was all over the field. Whether he was rushing Masterson or defending the pass, Irving was on a mission. “I was looking at state rankings and Ridley was top ten and we were in the 40’s, many said we couldn’t hang with Ridley, nobody gave us a chance but I like that; I like being the underdog” Irving said.
With just over nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter Garnet Valley’s defensive linemen, senior Andrew Weber recovered a fumble on Ridley’s 34 yard line. With the Jaguars down by one point senior quarterback Mark McHugh dropped back, and with the Green Raiders pressure coming, threw a hail mary into the end zone. Coming down with the spectacular 34 yard touchdown reception was Warden for his second touchdown of the night to give the Jaguars a six point lead after the extra point, 20-14. “Honestly I do not know how I caught that ball. I think I have one of the worst set of hands on the team but I have been working with the wide receiver coach all week. We have been practicing that play he’s been telling me to just keep my eye on the ball, and that’s what I did” Warden said.
Over the next five minutes the Jaguars’ defense gave Ridley’s offense a headache. With the Jaguars senior linebacker Tom D’Alonzo knocking the ball away on fourth and long and with Irving continuing to sack Masterson, forced Ridley into territory they haven’t seen all year.
With only 1:24 to go in the game the Green Raiders began on their own 39 yard line. The Green Raiders just wouldn’t give up. Quickly the Green Raiders moved into Garnet Valley’s territory. On fourth and three on Garnet Valley’s 18 yard line with just 14 seconds to go Masterson connected with senior Alex Nicolino for a first down. The clock read nine more seconds and Ridley was now on Garnet Valley’s 11 yard line. Ridley was just 11 yards away from tying the game or even possibly winning. After a tip ball there was only two seconds left in the game. You could hear Garnet Valley’s crowd cheering from a mile away and Ridley fans hoping to take the title back; Masterson with the undefeated season on the line dropped back, spanned the field and began to scramble, but with a swarm of Jaguars he couldn’t go anywhere and the Jaguars won an intense Central League Championship game, 20-14.
Once again the Jaguars defense came up big in the end. Head coach of Garnet Valley Mike Ricci said “The defense has been playing great all year and tonight was no exception, we did a great job.” With the win tonight and a win next week against Lower Merion the Jaguars will be Co-Champions with Ridley. “It’s a great feeling, anytime you beat Ridley it’s a good feeling. They’re a great program with a great tradition” Ricci said.
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