Pennridge holds off Ridley in 2nd half for 17-14 win

RIDLEY >> Just missing out on the postseason was a tough pill for the Pennridge football team to swallow.

The Rams and Plymouth Whitemarsh finished in a tie for the 16th and final spot in the District 1-AAAA playoffs, but PW’s edge in wins – eight to seven – kept Pennridge on the outside of the tournament.

“All week, we were bummed,” Rams senior Dan Hockman said. “But we looked forward to the next game. We got to stay strong.”

So, instead of a date with top-seed Downingtown East in the 4A first round, Pennridge headed to Delaware County Friday night for a contest with Ridley. And after building a 17-7 at half, the Rams’ defense did enough to hold off the Green Raiders and earn a 17-14 victory at Phil Merion Field.

“This game we were selling as a playoff game against a really good team,” Rams coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “To come an hour and a half down here and play well, play a really good first half and kind of hang in there second half and defensively kind of dominate the second half, I thought was great.”

Ridley scored the only points after halftime on the first series of the third quarter, as quarterback Cade Stratton hit Gene Gibbons for a 45-yard touchdown to make 17-14 at 8:34.

The Green Raiders drove down to the Pennridge 27 on their next possession, but turned the ball over on downs. The teams traded punts before Ridley got the ball back with 6:42 left in the fourth, but on 4th-and-8 from its own 46, Stratton’s pass was incomplete.

“We did a lot of blitzes, we disguised a lot. And we just keep it to them,” Hockman said. “We stayed strong on D, so did they – they’re good, tough on D. it was a defensive battle.”

With the help of a Ridley personal foul penalty, Pennridge (8-3) ran off the final 1:48 to collect its fourth consecutive win.
“It was good football,” Hollenbach said. “It was really good football. Too bad weren’t more people here to watch. But it’s really good football. And I thought it was a quality of a playoff game. I’m really proud of the kids that we could come out on top.”

After the first quarter ended 7-7, Hockman put the Rams by shaking off a few tackle attempts by Ridley (6-5) and breaking away for an 88-yard touchdown run.

“Well, it was beautiful blocking,” he said. “I saw a hole, I hit it as hard as I could. They missed tackles, they were arm-tackling and just saw open field and I took off.”

Almost three minutes later, Matt Mauer’s 39-yard field goal had the visitors leading by 10. The Rams blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt in the final minute to go into the half still up 17-7.

Malik Jones paced Ridley on the ground, rushing 23 times for 154 yards – 60 coming on his TD run that tied the game 7-7 with two seconds left in the first quarter. Stratton finished 8-of-14 passing for 106 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Hockman led Pennridge with 86 yards on five carries.

Both teams finish their season with Thanksgiving Day rivalry games – Ridley hosts Interboro while Pennridge welcomes Quakertown to Helman Field.

After five straight wins over Quakertown, the Rams lost two close games to the Panthers in 2014, falling 14-10 in the district first round then 8-7 on Thanksgiving.

“We definitely got momentum. This game definitely helped us a lot. We’re coming out strong towards the end of the season. It’s a shame we didn’t make playoffs, but now we’re definitely watching film on Quakertown right now. We’re getting ready for the next game.”

Pennridge was forced to punt on its opening two drives, but each time Ridley fumbled on the return. The Rams recovered the second giveaway at the Raider 25 and four plays later Judens Desrosiers cross the goal line on a four yard run at 6:22 in the first quarter.

“I haven’t had a first drive like that or a first opening part of a game in a long time where they kept giving us chances. We finally got in.” Hollenbach said.

Ridley even the contest with just two ticks left in the opening quarter, Stratton corralling a high snap then handling off to Jones, who dashed 60 yards to the end zone.

But Pennridge answered on its next possession. After a holding call made it 1st-and-20 from the Ram 12, Hockman found a seam on a run to the left, worked out of a tackle then got into the open field thanks to a block by Anthony Dechant for an 88-yard touchdown at 10:07 in the second quarter.

“I was just doing my job,” Hockman said. “I just hit the hole and then I was gone. Not looking back.”

On Ridley’s next drive, Iziah Lewis intercepted Stratton and set Pennridge up at the Green Raider 26. The Rams could only move the ball to the 23 and went to Mauer, and the junior kicker drilled a 39-yard field goal to make it 17-7 at 7:09.




Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Devon Balmer3137018-170000000000
Ryan Gordon000005140000000000
Connor Hansen00000270000000000


Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Tahj McCafferty00000130000000000
Malik Young000002315413170000000
Cade Stratton81410611940000000000
Tom Reilly000001001160000000
Brock Anderson00000130190000000
Gene Gibbons000000002511000000
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