Ridley wastes solid defensive performance in loss to Pennridge

RIDLEY TWP >> Two costly and unusual turnovers on the first series of Ridley’s non-league game Friday night against Pennridge proved to be the difference as the visitors walked away with a 17-14 win over the Green Raiders at Phil Marion Field.

The game wasn’t agreed upon until last week, after both schools failed to make it to the postseason.

Ridley (6-5) kicked off to Pennridge to start the game and did not allow a first down, forcing the Rams to punt from their 30-yard line. Ridley muffed the punt at midfield and Pennridge recovered.

Again the Raiders’ defense stood tall, forcing a three-and-out. The ensuing punt was again muffed and recovered by Pennridge at the the Ridley 25. The Green Raiders committed a penalty on the turnover and Pennridge had a first down on the 15.

Three plays later running back Judens Desrosiers scored from the three to give Pennridge (8-3) a 7-0 lead it would not relinquish.

Ridley head coach Dennis Decker said he encourages his players to be aggressive and if there are mistakes, so be it.

“It was just unfortunate we didn’t handle the punts,” Decker said. “We probably should have gotten away from it (the ball), but we didn’t. He tried to make a play. But hey, they’re high school kids, they’re trying to make plays, they’re out here trying to win a football game.”

Statistically Ridley was the better team the rest of the way, especially on defense.

The Green Raiders held Pennridge to just six first downs all game, 147 yards rushing and just seven yards passing, with Christian Dunn intercepting quarterback Devon Balmer in the second quarter.

“That’s part of football,” Decker said. “We have to be good at every facet of the game.”

On offense, junior running back Malik Jones rushed 23 times for 148 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to lead Ridley. Green Raiders quarterback Cade Stratton was 8 of 14 for 112 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Gene Gibbons in the third quarter.

Dan Hockman scored the Rams’ other touchdown on an 88-yard run in the second quarter.

Senior Denis Kennedy struggled at times with his shotgun snaps to the quarterback, and Decker said his center was dealing with physical problems that would have sidelined most other players.

“Our center’s been battling an arm injury,” Decker said. “And probably on a good day wouldn’t be playing today, but that’s the type of kid Denis is. He battles.”

Decker said he was sorry to hear that Interboro lost its first-round District One AAA playoff game to Great Valley Friday night, but admitted there was a bright side to the Bucs’ loss. The continuation of a tradition.

“Interboro is always a great rivalry, a great game on Thanksgiving,” Decker said. “My father played in it under coach Marion and that’s what it’s all about… Turkey football.”

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