Ridley, Miscues beat Q’Town in Playoffs
By Don Leypoldt
To run in the 11/12 Bucks County Herald
The Quakertown Panther Marching Band’s outstanding halftime show- “Shuffle Up”- features a Blackjack theme.
Unfortunately, it was the visiting #11 seed Ridley Green Raiders (9-2) who hit “21” in Friday night’s first round AAAA playoff game. A victory for the #6 seed host Panthers (8-3) wasn’t in the cards as they fell 21-0.
“We had opportunities but at times we had some breakdowns with pass protection or we didn’t catch the ball real well,” said Quakertown coach John Donnelly. “It’s a game of mistakes and we made too many to win tonight.”
“We tip our hat to (Ridley),” Donnelly added.
The Panthers were able to advance the ball impressively at times; Ridley outgained Quakertown by only 26 yards. But a lost fumble, an interception, a botched punt and 62 penalty yards were glaring miscues in a game where Quakertown had little margin for error.
The last thing as stingy as Ridley’s defense was Ebenezer Scrooge before Jacob Marley’s visit. The Green Raiders have allowed seven or fewer points in each of their nine wins. Good coverage and steady defensive line pressure caused the Panthers to complete just 6 passes out of 23 attempts.
Rdiley quarterback Andrew Pidgeon (13 for 25, 118 yards) completed passes to five different receivers on five attempts in their opening drive; the capper being a five yard toss to running back Casey DePrinzio in the right flat for a touchdown.
The Panthers responded with a steady diet of standout running back Tony Latronica, the game’s leading rusher with 81 yards on 18 carries. On a second and 19 at the Panther 45, lefty quarterback Ryan Tinknell fired a bullet over the middle to wide out Ben Ebe. Ebe sprinted all the way to the 15 but coughed up the football after a vicious open field hit; Ridley’s Pat Zimmerman pounced on the loose ball to kill the drive.
The tough Latronica- who is on anyone’s all Lunch Pail first team- repaid the favor three drives later. A muffed punt gave Ridley the ball at the Panther 37. On a fourth and five from the Panther 32, Pidgeon apparently found a wide open Pat Mills for the first down until Latronica’s solid hit jarred the ball incomplete.
Junior linebacker Rob Basile ended another Ridley scoring threat just as dramatically one drive later when he burst through the line and sacked Pidgeon on a third down in Panther territory.
“Our defense did a pretty good job overall,” commented Donnelly. “We just couldn’t get uncorked on offense tonight.”
The Ridley defense set up their second score with 8:30 left in the third quarter. Zimmerman wrestled a Tinknell pass away at the Quakertown 14. Pidgeon hit wide receiver Troy Foster in the end zone on a corner route one play later to make the score 14-0.
Quakertown senior running back Mike Festa picked up 57 yards on just five carries, providing some 3rd quarter fireworks with his two runs of 20+ yards.
Ridley’s speedy tailback Shahaid Smith, who was held to just 17 yards through the first three quarters, took a 4th and 1 handoff at the Panther 28 and burst to the end zone with 4:45 left in the game. It was Ridley’s second scoring drive on the night where they started inside the Panther 38.
Smith ran for 69 yards on 10 carries.
The long field proved to be a “12th man” playing against the Panthers. When one drive is removed, Quakertown’s average starting field position was their own 21, which compares unfavorably to Ridley’s average start at their own 45.
The two teams shared success this year but had 2007 seasons that were as opposite as Billy Graham and Howard Stern. Ridley walked away as the District One champions while Quakertown struggled in a 1-11 campaign. The Panthers’ remarkable turnaround should not go unnoticed in spite of Friday night’s loss.
“I’m glad that we at least got here and I think we did a lot better this year than we did last year,” said Festa.
“We’re still proud of where we are right now and we still have one game left against our rival (Pennridge) here on this field,” said Donnelly. “Our guys will get excited and be prepared for that challenge. But this one is going to sting for a little bit.”
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: