GLENOLDEN >> It never crossed Brock Anderson’s mind that this could be the last one.
With less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, Ridley had the ball inside Interboro’s 10-yard line. The game was tied.
Anderson wasn’t thinking that this could be his final time carrying a football in a Green Raiders uniform. What ran through his head was making sure the handoff from quarterback Cade Stratton was clean, follow his linemen up front and push his way into the end zone.
Anderson, in typical fashion, didn’t take credit for what happened Thursday at the South Avenue Athletic Complex. His nine-yard touchdown plunge was the difference, allowing Ridley to defeat Interboro, 29-22. It was Ridley’s 36th Thanksgiving Day win over Interboro.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) November 24, 2016
For Anderson, who was playing in his third straight Turkey Day game, it wasn’t about him at all.
“I can’t say that I physically won the game,” Anderson said, “because I have 11 brothers on the field at all times. If we didn’t have that block (on special teams), I wouldn’t have won the game. We scored this touchdown as a team and that just makes this 10 times more special, knowing that I had 11 guys behind my back and knowing that they wanted to win this game just as badly as I did.”
Indeed, the Green Raiders had several heroes — not just Anderson — in an instant Thanksgiving classic between arguably the top-two football rivals in Delaware County. Nick Pellegrino blocked the punt with a minute to play to give Ridley the ball at Interboro’s 30-yard line. Malik Young, who sealed the win with a last-second interception, scored on a crazy touchdown run in the second quarter and gained 120 yards on nine carries. Stratton’s one-yard touchdown run tied the game for Ridley (11-2) after Interboro (10-3) had taken control with 15 unanswered points in the third quarter.
What was shaping up to be a low-scoring affair turned downright wild in the second half. Forty-five of the 51 points were tallied after halftime.
“Every time we have played Interboro, it has been a close game,” senior linebacker Ryan Gricco said. “We came out and worked hard the whole game, but we knew it was going to be a fight.”
Young fired the opening salvo with his 66-yard scoring scamper in the second quarter. Young stiff-armed an Interboro defender in the backfield, made a spin move and ran alongside the Ridley sideline to give the Green Raiders the early advantage.
“I just kept going. When I saw (the defender), I gave him a stiff arm and I just spun off him,” Young said. “I stumbled a little bit, but I kept my ground. I looked up and I saw green grass and put on my sprinter’s speed. I just went for it to the finish line.”
Interboro leaned on its star running back, senior Chris Thomas, who got his team on the scoreboard with a 66-yard run midway through the third quarter. Kalie Kuyateh’s 23-yard touchdown catch from Nate Murtha gave Interboro the lead with 1:13 to go in the third.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) November 24, 2016
“They came out for the second half pretty fired up,” said Stratton, who completed five of six passing attempts for 53 yards. “We had to make some adjustments.”
Ociele Miller put Ridley ahead, 22-15, with a 22-yard scoring run. Interboro responded when Connor Adams took a wide receiver reverse 29 yards to paydirt. The Bucs then recovered a squib kick and were poised to go back in front with two minutes to play.
Ridley’s defense had other ideas. The Bucs went 30 yards in the wrong direction as the Green Raiders forced a three-and-out. That opened the door for Pellegrino to get his hand on the ball and block the punt on fourth down.
“We played good defense the whole game. We saw that they recovered the ball, so we knew we had to play our regular defense that Coach (Dave) Wood has taught us all year,” Gricco said. “Play hard-nosed football, fill your gaps and find ways to make tackles.”
After Young hauled in a 20-yard reception, the game was put in the hands of Anderson, who didn’t disappoint.
“He’s worked so hard to get where he is, from getting hurt last year and missing half the season and now to this year. He was our workhorse,” Stratton said. “He was the heart of our offense and everyone persevered around him. He made everything work.”
Following a loss in the District 1 Class 6A quarterfinals, Ridley was thrilled to have another chance to write a happy ending to a memorable season.
“This was the biggest game of our careers as seniors,” Anderson said. “This is the game that both team want, that the communities want, that everybody wants. We knew we had to get a win and this was the biggest one we had.”
Thomas rushed for 1,733 yards in his senior year and gained 144 yards in his final game. He set the single-season touchdown record at Interboro with 25.
Anderson offered a few words about Thomas.
“I give him all the credit in the world,” Anderson said. “He’s a tremendous kid, an awesome athlete. I know him personally and he’s a workhorse. He knows what he has to do and he gets it done.”
That’s Brock Anderson — saying good things about everyone but himself.