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Spring-Ford uses second-half surge to oust Ridley

ROYERSFORD >> For years, Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker has emphasized the need for his Rams to match the physicality of the powerhouse teams they face in the postseason. It was again a point of emphasis for the No. 8-seeded Rams as they prepared for No. 9 Ridley of the Central League.

Spring-Ford’s patience was rewarded. The Rams bounced back from a two-touchdown halftime deficit, matching and then surpassing Ridley’s play in the trenches in a come-from-behind, 42-28 win for over the Raiders in the District 1 Class 6A first round.

Senior Will Fish carried for 144 yards with Mike Bendowski adding exactly 100 as Spring-Ford outrushed Ridley 283-108 in controlling the line of scrimmage after halftime.

The Rams went into the locker room trailing 28-14 after an uneven first half but outgained the Raiders 288-13 in the next 22 minutes, scoring on four out of five drives to earn the comeback win.

“Starting in the third quarter, we started pounding the ball, getting positive yards,” said Brubaker. “We just kept rolling with it.”

“Early on, we had a turnover, we didn’t get any stops — and we came in down two scores. But there was no ranting and raving, it was just ‘let’s go down and score, get back into it.’”

And that they did. Fish got rolling behind a powerful offensive line with a couple first-down carries after halftime before QB Matt Zollers’ second of three TD runs brought SF within 28-20.

“We never got down on ourselves,” said Fish. “We knew we hadn’t played our best [before halftime].”

A quick Ridley three-and-out gave junior Mike Bendowski his chance in the backfield, which paid off in a 37-yard sprint through the right side. Bendowski beat the pursuing linebacker through an enormous hole and outran the Ridley secondary to tie the contest at 28.

“That gave us momentum, got us moving in the right direction,” said Bendowski.

That momentum turned into Spring-Ford’s first lead when Zollers kept on a third down and raced untouched six yards to the house, putting the Rams ahead 35-28.

Fish put the icing on the cake in the following drive, bouncing outside on a fourth down for a 40-yard score to send Spring-Ford to the second round for the first time since 2016.

“Just keep going, stay positive, keep hitting,” summarized senior captain and offensive lineman Ryan Shaner. “If someone makes a mistake? Pick him up; hit them harder.”

Gage Swanger’s last interception thwarted Ridley’s final opportunity.

For their part, a Ridley offense that had been borderline unstoppable before halftime stalled out as the game progressed. Three straight three and outs set the stage for SF’s rushing dominance, but the Raiders had their highlights as well.

Ridley’s special teams set the visitors up on their first two drives, Kimir Stephenson and Khameen Powell each taking kicks back into Spring-Ford territory. Both drives ended in Paul Jackson rushing touchdowns, the first a 47-yard scamper off a direct snap on a fourth down.

On the next drive, a Stephen O’Donovan (five catches, 80 yards) catch on third down at the SF 34 gave Ridley a first and goal.

In between, Spring-Ford QB Zollers found older brother Zach for a 31-yard TD to get Spring-Ford on the board.

The big play of the first half came when Ridley’s Powell intercepted Matt Zollers around midfield and returned the ball all the way to the SF 1-yard line, where Ridley QB Ryan Carroll snuck over the goal line for a 20-7 advantage. The Rams embarked upon a 12-play drive that ate up most of the second quarter, culminating in Matt Zollers’ 8-yard TD scamper.

The Raiders (7-4) responded and recaptured momentum going into halftime as Alante Smith scored from five yards out with 27 seconds left.

It would be the final highlight of the evening for Ridley. Penalties would be part of the Raiders undoing, whistled eleven times for 105 yards.

“Spring-Ford played extremely well in the second half,” said Ridley coach Dave Wood. “We lost one of our inside linebackers (Michael Cosella) to a broken arm, and we weren’t really the same after that. But I give credit to Coach Brubaker and his team.

“I was disappointed in the officials. That’s not to take away from Spring-Ford, I’m just disappointed in the discrepancy in penalties. I’d love to talk with [the officials], have the chance to go over those calls.”

Spring-Ford, for their part, was whistled nine times themselves for 75 yards.

“I give credit to Ridley for a well-played game,” said Brubaker. “But they are penalties. They’re correct calls.”

Friday’s game matched two of the best teams not to win a league championship this season in District 1.

Coming in, Ridley’s losses were to Garnet Valley and Strath Haven — Central League co-champions and respective No. 1 seeds at 6A and 5A — and Crestwood (Fla.)

Like Ridley, Spring-Ford’s losses came against top competition — PAC champions Perkiomen Valley (by a single point), and 6A state contenders Cumberland Valley and Manheim Township from District 3.

The Rams (8-3) move to next week’s District quarterfinals against No. 1 Garnet Valley (11-0) who topped Ridley 35-7 on September 16, and bested Quakertown in round one Friday night.

Ridley’s 2022 campaign continues on Thanksgiving Day against Interboro.


Spring-Ford 42, Ridley 28

Ridley —    13   15   0   0   —   28

Spring-Ford —   7   7   21   7   —   42


R — P. Jackson 47 run (Abdel-Latif kick)
SF — Z. Zollers 31 pass from M. Zollers (Fields kick)
R — P. Jackson 3 run (Abdel-Latif kick)
R — Carroll 1 run (Abdel-Latif kick)
SF — M. Zollers 8 run (Fields kick)
R — Smith 5 run (P. Jackson run)
SF — M. Zollers 10 run (attempt failed)
SF — Bendowski 37 run (Fish run)
SF — M. Zollers 6 run (Fields kick)
SF — Fish 40 run (Fields kick)


R                  SF
First Downs                12                 24

Rushing Yards           108               283

Passing Yards            105                180

Total Yards                213                463

Passes C-A-I          11-24-1          14-25-2

Fumbles-Lost             1-0                 2-0

Penalties-Yards       11-105           9-75

Punts-Avg.              5-31.4             2-25 



Ridley – Jackson 7-60; 2 TD, Smith 10-29; TD, Bosak 5-18, Carroll 2-1; TD.

Spring-Ford – Fish 23-144; TD, M.Zollers 11-39; 3 TD, Bendowski 7-100; TD,. 


Ridley – Carroll 11-24, 105 yards, INT.

Spring-Ford – M. Zollers 14-25, 180 yards, TD, 2 INT. 


Ridley – O’Donovan 5-80, Jackson 3-29, Powell 3-(minus-4). 

Spring-Ford – Fish 3-31, Abdelrahman 3-14, Z. Zollers 2-41; TD, Scott 2-20, Kerchner 2-10, Swanger 1-59, Bendowski 1-5.

Sacks: Ridley – Bair.

Interceptions: Ridley – Powell, P. Jackson.

Spring-Ford – Swanger.

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