Crowley, Ridley steal one on Springfield

SPRINGFIELD >> There’s another Crowley playing football at Ridley. His name is Sean and he’s a sophomore linebacker.

Friday night, the young Crowley —  whose older brother, Mike, was an All-Delco defensive back in 2012 —  made the play of the game to help Ridley to a 25-20 victory over Springfield.

In the third quarter, Crowley ripped the ball from a Springfield running back and ran 48 yards the other way to give the Green Raiders a lead they would not relinquish.

Crowley was one of the heroes in a statement win. Ridley is 2-0 for the first time since 2012, when it last qualified for the District One playoffs.

“I saw my other linebacker (Ryan) Gricco hold him up at the line of scrimmage. I knew he wasn’t carrying the ball,” Crowley said. “So, I just took the ball right from him and I knew I was gone. Nobody ever really touched me. All my boys blocked for me and I knew I was going for six.”

Springfield’s Dan Archibong (88) catches a touchdown pass near the end of the first half as he is wrapped up by Ridley’s Sam Ferkler during the Green Raiders’ victory over the Cougars Friday night. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Springfield’s Dan Archibong (88) catches a touchdown pass near the end of the first half as he is wrapped up by Ridley’s Sam Ferkler during the Green Raiders’ victory over the Cougars Friday night. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

The way the first half had unfolded — 10 points, 135 penalty yards —  it was the sort of clutch play that one team would need to pull away from the other.

“It was a huge play,” Ridley coach Dennis Decker said. “He’s a sophomore, so he’s learning. He’s a Crowley, so he’s an athletic kid. He’s still got a lot to learn, but for his first start on varsity I thought he played very well.”

Crowley was an injury replacement for junior starting linebacker Pat McClintock, who suffered a dislocated elbow in Ridley’s 30-0 Week 1 victory over Glen Mills.

“I was real upset that Pat got hurt, but everyone just came up to me and said, ‘It’s your time.’ I was ready,” Crowley said.

Ridley’s front seven was relentless, particularly after halftime. The Green Raiders, powered by linemen Nick Deprinzio and Antonio Petril, had four sacks of Springfield quarterback Brandon DiChiacchio and limited the Cougars ground attack to a mere 62 yards.

After falling behind 7-3 at halftime, thanks to an 8-yard touchdown catch by Springfield tight end Dan Archibong, the Green Raiders ramped up the pressure.

“I thought we played well the entire first half and we just didn’t finish,” Decker said. “Springfield is a great football team. They’re big and physical and they come off the ball real well. We knew it was going to be a fight.”

Archibong caught three passes for 38 yards in that final drive late in the second quarter. Ridley kept the Temple-bound senior in check in the second half.

“It was one of the adjustments that (defensive coordinator) Jeff (Hamson) made at halftime. We wanted to bang him off the line and get a safety on top of him,” Decker said.

A big storyline in the game was the battle for field position. Ridley and Springfield combined for 12 punts. Ridley junior Brock Anderson ripped off a few big returns in the second half to put the Green Raiders deep into Springfield territory.

In the fourth quarter Anderson took a 37-yard punt return to the Springfield 2-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Cade Stratton sneaked in from four-yards out to put Ridley ahead, 18-7.

Anderson knew his services would be needed Friday night. He delivered on special teams and in the defensive secondary along with Christian Dunn and Gene Gibbons, who played solid defense against the pass.

“Especially playing on the grass and since we’re so used to playing on artificial turf, the footing is a little different so everything is either a step slower or you’re just not used to the surface,” Anderson said. “Field position helps a lot, especially with the way our offensive line is producing. We need to get good field position and push the ball in the end zone, and that’s what we were able to do tonight.

“I’m only a junior so I’m not a leader yet, but I definitely try to take charge and try to put in as much work as I can.”

After the Green Raiders (2-0) gained an 11-point advantage, the Cougars (1-1) responded. Ridley was whistled for a questionable unnecessary roughness call on third and long, giving Springfield new life. Moments later, DiChiacchio sneaked into the end zone from short distance to cut the Ridley lead to 18-13. Crowley blocked the point-after attempt.

Stratton put the game in the back with a 27-yard scamper on fourth down. Jon Buckmaster had to enter behind center after Stratton’s helmet came flying off, and Buckmaster finished the drive with another Ridley quarterback keeper for a touchdown.

“That fourth-down run was clutch,” Crowley said.

The Green Raiders technically kick off their Central League slate next week when they welcome Garnet Valley to town. Springfield and Ridley are the only Central League teams that battled in Week 2, the game not counting in the league standings.

“Knowing that we’ve had trouble with our second game in the last couple years, being able to come out of this game with a W definitely helps our momentum,” Anderson said.

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