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Ortega keeps his career alive with late push as Coatesville beats Garnet Valley

CONCORD >> Coatesville quarterback Ricky Ortega stood on the sideline midway through the third quarter Friday night, wondering if the final few minutes of an incredible high school career were laid out in front of him.
In the late stages of a tight game, Garnet Valley had rallied to take a 27-20 lead. He told his defense to just get a stop and he would take care of the rest.
He sure did.
Ortega rushed for the next two Coatesville touchdowns and started a four-touchdown rally as the Red Raiders defeated a game Garnet Valley squad, 48-27, at Moe De Frank stadium. The Red Raider (10-2) win puts them into next Friday’s District 1 Class 6A championship game against old friend Downingtown West, which Coatesville defeated earlier this season.
It will be the third straight district final for Coatesville.
“We never lost confidence when they came out in the second half and tied it up,” Ortega said. “I told my defense to just get a stop and I will take care of the rest. Coach (Jim) Cantafio called some great plays and I used my legs to score.
“We have that ’ville mentality to us as a team,” Ortega said. “We come from a tough town and nothing is given to us, so we don’t ever give up and we did not panic when they took the lead.”
Coatesville took a 20-13 lead at halftime against the Jaguars (11-2), but Garnet Valley came out breathing fire in the third quarter. Ryan Gallagher scored on a five-yard runny after a Coatesville three and out, and Gallagher hit Shane Mulholland with a pretty 30-yard touchdown pass to make it a 27-20 game in favor of the Jags.
“I am so proud of my kids’ effort,” Garnet Valley head coach Mike Ricci said. “And we came out and scored points in the third period and got a couple of stops. But, you cannot give Coatesville too many chances and they scored on us.
“But, my kids stick together and they battle and they do not back down from anybody and they did not back down tonight,” Ricci said. “They are a great bunch of kids.”
Ortega, who rushed for 153 yards on 24 carries and threw for another 216 yards, was the difference as he scored on a nine-yard run to make it a 27-27 game. After a Coatesville stop, Ortega went up the middle 36 yards to stretch the lead to 34-27, and the Red Raiders seemed to withstand the stout Garnet Valley push.
“I mean, Ricky was beat up in the first half,” Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega said. “Him and Dapree Bryant just pick up the entire team. Ricky, when he scored those two touchdowns to put us ahead, it almost brought tears to my eyes.
“And the whole team rallied around those guys after that. We had our backs to the wall and we came back and took the lead and went from there. This is a special group of kids.”
With Garnet Valley behind, 34-27, the usually run-oriented Jaguars were forced to go to the air. Ryan Gallagher completed 10 of 26 passes on the night, but he threw a big 43-yard pick six to Bryant and the Red Raiders had a 41-27 lead.
With their backs to the wall, Gallagher valiantly tried to move his team down the field with a pass, but his throw to the right flat was picked again by Bryant for a 26-yard pick six and the final was 48-27, leading the Red Raiders into a showdown with rival and neighbor Downingtown West as they try to defend their back-to-back District 1 Class 6A crowns.
“We never got nervous in the second half when they took the lead,” Bryant said. “I have confidence in every one of my teammates and we came back like we do. I just read the quarterback’s eyes and broke on the ball. We are ready for next weekend we are ready to defend our title.”

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