Ridley Holds off Downingtown West
Folsom, Pa., Shane Dougherty’s one on one tackle on their own 10 yard line late in the 3rd quarter proved to be the difference in District 1’s number two seed Ridley Green Raiders 20-17 win last night over a very competitive 15 seed Downingtown West last night at Phil Marion field in Folsom. Ridley overcame an early 14-3 deficit to move on to the second round.
Whippets coach Mike Milano came right out with his offense very well prepared and quarterback Nick Pagel mixed in plenty of misdirection, pistol formations, screens and counters and appeared at first to throw the Green Raider defense off balance. However, as is always customary with the Central league champs, Coach Dennis Decker’s group buckled down and allowed no touchdowns in the second half.
Darren Washington had a huge night for Ridley but fumbled on his first carry at the Raider 30. West’s Bryan McClintock recovered it and returned it to Ridley’s 10 yard line. Two plays later Pagel hit Mitch Meleski for a 13 yard touchdown. Meleski scored again from three yards on their next possession after running for gains of 16 and 18 yards. The Whippet heavier offensive line appeared to get some push on the Raider defense which gave them a distinct advantage in the first half.
Sandwiched between two Kelton Heverly field goals, Washington made up for his earlier miscue with a 16 yard touchdown run and pulling them with 14-13 at intermission.
Ridley needed for someone to make a play in the second half and received a gift when Downingtown West snapped the ball over the punter’s head while they tried to pin Ridley back in bad field position. With the ball on the 50, Ridley generated a seven play drive and Rich Coia scored from the one and gave the Raiders a lead that they made sure not to let go of.
The play the Raiders really needed came on the Whippets ensuing possession. Holding the ball on their own 39 yard line, West generated a 14 play, seven minute drive, collecting four first downs with an assortment of runs to Meleski and Tino Bunhu. Players make big plays at big times and Shane Dougherty, as he has done all year for this Ridley team, stepped forward. On a third and goal on the Raider ten, Pagel threw a flair pass to Meleski and all that stood between him and the goal line was Dougherty. Dougherty would not be denied and stuffed the play ending a drive that appeared to take a lot of wind out of the Whippets sails. They had to settle for a Nick Caruso 30 yard field goal.
Ridley’s vaunted defense plays ever better in the fourth quarter and this one was no different. West had a four and out a three and out and ended their great effort holding the Whippets to only 13 yards on seven plays on their last possession and Coia’s sack of Pagel with under two minutes left ended whatever hope West had of an upset.
The win propels Ridley (11-0) to a home quarterfinal matchup with a PAC 10, 10-1 Spring-Ford team next week.
Notes: The game was stopped for 30 minutes after Meleski was tackled by Jabree Savoy late in the game. He was carted off the field and hopefully will be okay. He had both Whippets TD’s. Washington had 136 yards on 23 carries. He’s got a second gear that gave West fits all night. Dan Speca, Ian Nanni and Elijah Wilkinson played monster games for West. Wilkinson’s drive blocking was some of the best seen in these parts. Mike Smoluk played a solid game at DB for Ridley with a number of open field tackles.
Scoring by Quarter
DTW – Mitch Meleski – 13 pass from Nick Pagel – (PAT – Nick Caruso) – 8:19
R ID – Kelton Heverly – 26 yard FG – 5:30
DTW – Meleski – 3 run – (PAT – Caruso) – 3:40
RID – Heverly – 23 yard FG – 10:36
RID – Darren Washington – 16 run – (PAT – Heverly) – 6:21
RID – Rich Coia – 1 run – (PAT – Caruso) – 5:36
DTW – Caruso – 30 yard FG – 11:56
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