By Scott Huff
The game turned in a blink on an eye.
Defending District One champion Ridley led host Quakertown 7-0 early in the third period. On a second-and-12 play from the Panther five-yard line, Ridley linebacker Pat Zimmerman wrestled the ball away from a Quakertown receiver at the 14-yard line for an interception. On the very next play, Green Raider quarterback Andrew Pidgeon fired a scoring strike to Troy Foster to put Ridley up 14-0.
That five-second period of time was the key moment in 48 very competitive minutes of football as Ridley captured a 21-0 victory in the first round of the PIAA District One Playoffs.
“Football is a game of mistakes,” said Quakertown head coach John Donnelly. “We had our opportunities, but we weren’t able to make the plays.
“We wanted to get off to a fast start,” continued the coach. “And that just didn’t happen.”
No it didn’t.
Quakertown received the opening kickoff – reeled off a first down – but punted on its second series of downs.
Pidgeon – the highly touted Ridley quarterback – was razor sharp on the first Green Raider possession. Pidgeon was a perfect five-for-five on the drive and capped the scoring march with a five-yard touchdown pass to Casey DePrinzio in the back of the end zone.
“We had to remind the kids before the game that we were defending district champions,” said Ridley coach John Waller. “We wanted to live up to that, and we wanted to represent both the Central League and Delaware County football.
“This was the first time in eight years that we were able to win a game up here,” added the coach. “We lost to North Penn a couple of times, and we lost to Pennridge. This area is a tough place to win.”
The initial score stood up as the halftime score. The Quakertown offense would move the football, but penalties and turnovers would keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
“We could never really get uncorked on offense,” said Donnelly. “The penalties and the turnovers hurt us – and when you make mistakes – it’s tough to win football games.”
Ridley scored the critical touchdown in the third period after the interception, and the Green Raiders iced the game in the fourth period with a 28-yard touchdown run by Shahaid Smith.
“This team wanted to be the first Quakertown team in the history of the school to win a playoff game,” said Donnelly. “I’m really proud of what we have accomplished this season.
“This loss will sting for a couple of days,” added Donnelly. “But we still have Pennridge on Thanksgiving Day, and we won’t have to end the season with a loss.”
“I really want to beat Pennridge on Thanksgiving,” said Quakertown senior Mike Festa. “I knew coming into the season that we were going to have a good year.
“I really felt that we were as good as Ridley,” added Festa. “If we could have ever gotten some momentum, things might have been different.”
Ridley 7 0 7 7 - 21
Quakertown 0 0 0 0 - 0
R: DePrinzio 5 pass from Pidgeon (Bongiomo kick)
R: Foster 14 pass from Pidgeon (Bongiomo kick)
R: Smith 28 run (Bongiomo kick)
First Downs: [R] – 18; [Q] – 13.
Rushing Yards: [R] – 147; [Q] – 145
Passing Yards: [R] – 121; [Q] – 88.
Total Offense: [R] – 268; [Q] – 233
Punts: [R] – 6-30; [Q] – 2-30.
Penalties: [R]- 4-20; [Q] – 6-60.
Rushing: Smith 10-73-TD; Harshaw 7-32; Pidgeon 7-11; Dixon 4-24; Nicollino 2-7. Totals 30-147-TD.
Passing: Pidgeon 13-25-121- 2 TD.
Receiving: Foster 4-44-TD; Smith 3-28; Cahill 3-16; Nicollino 1-17; Harshaw 1-11; DePrinzio 1-5-TD.
Rushing: Latronica 18-79; Festa 5-57; Burke 7-30; Fath 1-5; Tinknell 8 (minus 13); DeLan 1 (minus 13). Totals 40-145
Passing: Tinknell 6-22-1; 88 yards; Roberts 0-1-0; 0 yards. Totals 6-23-1; 88 yards.
Receiving: Latronica 2-22; Ede 1-30; Roberts 1-19; Fath 1-16; Festa 1-1. Totals 6-88.