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Ridley only getting better on defense

RIDLEY TWP. >> Sean Crowley admits he’s dealt with a lot of frustration this season. It’s understandable. Coming off a Central League championship a season ago, the senior captain at Ridley has never been on a losing team.

Following a blowout loss at Springfield a week ago, Crowley and his Green Raiders teammates came home to Phil Marion Field Friday with one mission and one mission only — to turn what has been a losing season around 180 degrees and make the district playoffs.

To do so, they need to win the final four games of their season, a mission that began with a game against Radnor Friday. Check that first win off the list.

Crowley and his defensive teammates swarmed the Raiders all night, securing a much-needed 14-6 victory.

“It’s going to sound cliché, but we need to take each game one at a time,” Crowley said. “This Radnor team is really good — much better than before. And we can’t take anyone for granted. I don’t care who we have on the schedule coming up. We’re going to treat each team like they’re undefeated; like they’re the defending state champion. And we’ve got to go out and play at that level if we want to get back to the playoffs.”

If they play defense like they did Friday, they just might pull it off.

Consider:

The Green Raiders limited Radnor to 10 yards rushing — for the entire game.

They sacked Raiders quarterback Sean Mullarkey seven times, and hit him a handful of other times, forcing him to rush passes before he was really ready.

They gave up 172 yards total, and 86 came on one play late in the fourth quarter.

Yes, Ridley’s D was that good.

“Our guys (on the defensive line) were really getting it done for us,” linebacker Dan Bart said. “All we had to do was fill the gaps and make plays.”

Bart had a pair of sacks and deflected two passes, including the final attempt of the game by Radnor, and even blocked a punt on special teams.

“It was good to win again,” Ridley coach Dave Wood said. “Our defense has been coming through for us like that almost all year. Take last week out of the equation and we’ve done a nice job getting after the other team. Those guys were in the backfield all night and I think Joe Spillman had four sacks or something.”

Technically, he only had two, but he did have three tackles for losses as well. Crowley had a sack, as did Jalen Hudson and Joe Molitor.

Mullarkey had his head on a swivel all night.

And yet, Radnor (4-3, 2-3) was in the game and even had a chance to tie the score on the final drive. That was the result of a lot of mistakes by Ridley’s offense and an 86-yard touchdown pass from Mullarkey to Matt Cohen that made it 14-6 late in the fourth quarter.

“The only thing that can really stop our offense is our offense,” Wood said. “We get going and everything looks smooth and then all of a sudden we take a dumb penalty, or we run the wrong play, or we turn over the ball. It’s frustrating for sure.”

The Green Raiders (3-4, 2-4) did have some positives on offense. Kamal Richardson scored on a 38-yard touchdown run on the second offensive play of the game and finished the game with 104 yards rushing on 16 carries.

And perhaps the most critical drive of the game was the final drive of the first half when Ridley marched 82 yards in 16 plays, chewing up almost six minutes of clock to stretch the lead to 14-0 at the half.

“That was really the only time our defense didn’t come through for us,” Radnor coach Tom Ryan said. “Otherwise they played their hearts out. To come to Ridley and have a chance to tie it at the end of the game speaks volumes about where we are right now. The guys have bought into the team concept and are playing for each other and you see it every game now.”

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