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Ridley rebounds (again) to eke out wild contest with Interboro

Ridley running back Hassan Chandler breaks loose for a big gain in the first half against Interboro Thursday. Chandler ran for 104 yards and a touchdown in Ridley's 27-26 win. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)
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GLENOLDEN — There was a feeling in the fourth quarter Thursday at South Avenue Athletic Complex that Interboro was destined to win.

The Bucs scored the go-ahead touchdown with 8:49 left in regulation.

Rather than play conservatively, kicker Jordan Howe executed a perfect squib kick. The ball bounced high in the air around the Ridley 35-yard line. Ridley’s special-teams players were looking directly into the glare of the November sun and lost track of the ball’s flight. Interboro pounced on the loose pigskin, and its offense went back to work inside Ridley territory.

Ridley’s defense, rattled after allowing Interboro to score seconds earlier, managed to make a big stop on fourth down with 6:50 left.

Ridley quarterback Jack Bakey gets a lift from his linemen to celebrate a first-half touchdown in Ridley’s 27-26 win over Interboro Thursday. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

What transpired was a wild finish to an amazing Turkey Bowl, the 50th edition in Delco’s most heated rivalry.

Ridley’s offense, led by senior quarterback Jack Bakey, required only three plays to regain the lead. Hassan Chandler sprinted 35 yards to the end zone. Interboro answered, thanks a to a four-yard scoring run by Evan Sorrentino.

With one more shot to and extend its Thanksgiving winning streak to five, Ridley capitalized. Elijah Yakpasuo lowered his shoulders and ran two yards up the middle and across the goal line, the difference in a 27-26 victory for Ridley.

“We know that, on every drive, we’ve got to play hard,” said Yakpasuo, who amassed 138 yards on 16 carries. He finished his senior year with 1,271 rushing yards. “This was a hard-fought game, both teams played really hard. We had to motivate the guys and tell them to get after it.

“I love competition. I love this type of game, I don’t like blowouts. I like it when (the game is) close. So, I had to tell the guys, ‘We’ve been through this before, so come on and let’s get after it.'”

Yakpasuo’s game-winning score came with 1:28 to play, which was enough time for Interboro’s offense to make it interesting. Jared Dellipriscoli threw an 11-yard pass to Tim Convery on third down to keep the Bucs’ hopes alive. Two plays later, Dellipriscoli rolled to his right and looked to throw downfield. He eluded the rush, changed directions a few times before setting his feet. He saw Andrew Grieb all alone in the end zone. Dellipriscoli unleashed a throw, but defensive back Jack Liberio recovered in time to disrupt the pass. Grieb juggled the ball as he was crashing to the ground and nearly made a circus catch.

“That was a check where our outside backer should’ve picked him up, but it’s a heat-of-the-moment play and it’s a credit to them. It’s the same play they ran last year and we had it covered,” Ridley coach Dave Wood said. “We went over that play probably 10 times, but in the heat of the moment, they are kids and some mistakes will be made.”

Wood was proud of the way his kids not only overcame mistakes in Thursday’s game but throughout a wild season. Ridley (7-5) started 0-4 but reeled off six straight wins to qualify for the District 1 Class 6A playoffs and ended the year with victories in seven of its last eight contests. The loss came to North Penn, which will play Coatesville for the district title Friday.

“When you look at how we started and the amount of negativity and bad thoughts,” Wood said, “we took the three kids I keep looking at: (Tommy) Bramwell, Bakey and Yak (Yakpasuo). We made sure that we would do all the right things and I really counted on them to get us to where we needed to be. For this team to win seven out of eight, play North Penn pretty well and come through this game … we had our backs to the wall. It’s a credit to those seniors I mentioned and I can’t say anymore about those guys.”

Interboro quarterback Jared Dellipriscoli avoids the tackle of Ridley’s Domenic DiMatteo in the first half Thursday. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Yakpasuo and Chandler (104 yards) each had big days running the ball. Bakey accrued 74 yards operating the option offense, finishing three yards shy of 1,000 for the season. He had one more chance to hit the mark, but Wood called for a kneel-down instead, the classy thing to do in the situation.

Bakey didn’t seem to mind. All that mattered was becoming the next in a long line of Ridley quarterbacks to lead his team to victory on Thanksgiving.

“This was the best game of my life, start to finish,” Bakey said. “Interboro played hard, and you’ve got to give credit to them. Our guys stuck together and we were just the better team today. We were confident in what we could do all day and knew that as soon as we got our shot, we were going to move the ball downfield and win the game.”

Interboro (6-7) was understandably distraught. But in defeat, the Bucs put forward arguably their best performance of the season. And, like Ridley, coach Steve Lennox’s crew showed remarkable resolve in 2018. After beginning the year 2-5, the Bucs won four in a row, including a playoff game in the District 1 Class 5A tournament.

A slew of Interboro players answered the call Thursday after the team’s best player, running back/defensive end Mike Moore, exited with an injury in the first quarter. Grieb piled up 145 yards receiving on five catches and ran for 26 yards on nine carries. Dellipriscoli was 8 for 16 for 188 yards through the air and added a team-high 55 yards on the ground. Marquis Byrd ran for 39 yard on 11 carries.

The Bucs and Green Raiders both deserved to win this one.

“That last drive, I almost had one in the end zone. Jared threw a great ball, but it came up short,” Grieb said. “For this team, it was always about next man up all year long. I was out five weeks and guys like Evan Sorrentino stepped up and did a hell of a job. That’s just the mindset we’ve had all year.

“Every single week, we came in ready to win. We were 2-5 and ended up 6-6 before today. It says a lot about the mindset of this team.”

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