Ridley Upsets North Penn 19-10, Wins Second District Title in 3 Years
For most of the 2009 High School Football Season North Penn and Ridley were ranked Numbers One and Two in the District One AAAA High School Football Ratings.
After a Week 9 loss to Garnet Valley dropped the Green Raiders down to number 7, not to many people gave Ridley much of a chance to even get to the finals.
But with the way the 16 team tournament played out, here were the two teams ranked 1-2 for most of the season–North Penn and Ridley playing for the District One AAAA Championship, the fourth time in the last eight years they have met in the playoffs.
Ridley’s defense forced three North Penn turnovers and held the Knights in check in a stunning 19-10 victory Friday night before 6,000 fans at Coatesville’s Multi-Purpose Stadium.
“I’ve said all along Ralph Batty is the best defensive co-ordinator in District One and maybe even the state,” said a very drenched Dennis Decker.”I told the kids that they were going to have to smack them in the mouth before they smack you.”
And smack they did!!
Linebacker Sam Dixon-Dugan put on a smack down clinic all game that included probably the biggest and best hit of the season for Ridley.
Trailing for the first time all year at halftime 13-10, North Penn took the second half kickoff and drove down to the Green Raider 6 yard line. On fourth and one from the six, North Penn runningback Craig Needhammer was completely stopped behind the line of scrimmage by Dixon-Dugan as he shot the gap and stopped the North Penn drive. Needhammer was held to 36 yards on eight carries by the Green Raider defense.
“We just keep doing what Coach Batty tells us to do,” said Dixon-Dugan. “We all kept pushing and we all believed in each other. ”
“Holding a team like North Penn to 10 points is a tribute to Ralph Batty,’ Decker added.
North Penn, who finishes the season at 13-1, opened the scoring with 6:11 left in the first quarter on a 32 yard field goal by Dylan Harris. The play was set up by a 65 yard run by Brandon Mercer that put the ball on the Green Raider 15 yard line.
It seemed that was going to be the halftime score until a flurry of activity in the last 2:59 set the tone for the second half.
Ridley, also now 13-1, took a 6-3 lead when Colin Masterson hit Norm Donkin on a 26 yard pass that capped a 42 yard 4 play drive. Masterson finished the night 8-15 for 101 yards.
North Penn then went to the last page in the playbook and pulled out a play left in there by the previous coach. Faced with a fourth and two on the Green Raider 31, Needhammer took the direct snap, bent over, Quarterback Todd Smolinsky faked the quarterback draw and Needhammer found Dom Taggert in the endzone for the 31 yard touchdown with just 39 seconds before halftime for a 10-6 lead.
That lead was short lived as Alex Nicolino, who also put on a hit clinic on when he was on defense took the ensuing kickoff and went 93 yards for a touchdown as Ridley regained a 13-10 lead.
“I told the kids if we played a good first half, good things will happen in the second half,” said Decker. “I felt we played ok in the first half. There were some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. ”
Ridley then put the game away in the fourth quarter as Shahaid Smith went over form the three with 8:13 to play in the game that ended a 29 yard seven play drive all on the ground. Smith ended the night with 80 yards on 22 carries.
With the win Ridley now plays the winner of LaSalle–Easton next week in state semi-final round at a site to be determined.
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