APPLE CREEK — Mother Nature ushered in some September shivers and the host Waynedale Golden Bears sent some chills down the spines of their loyal fans Friday night despite a 32-20 loss to Ridgewood High.
The Golden Bears of first-year head coach Louie Stanley erupted for 13 points in the fourth quarter to pull within five of the Generals, only to give up a late touchdown and fall by a dozen.
Ridgewood struck first on a 2-yard TD run by Isiah Lamneck with 1:20 to go in the opening period. Stanley’s 6-yard six-pointer with 10:17on the second-period clock and Andy Ford’s point-after kick knotted it at 7.
The Generals took a 14-7 lead into the locker room after senior QB Kolton Alexander went in from a yard out with 7:59 to go in the half.
Ridgewood’s late first-half interception came when Reber aired out a high pass from about the 24 and the Generals’ Jarett Slusser, nephew of head coach John Slusser, snared it just in-bounds at his own 2-yard line.
Ridgewood scored 11 unanswered points in the third period. Alexander connected with Tyler Caudy on a 5-yard pass with 10:57. The score early in the third period followed a 56-yard kickoff return by Lamneck that gave the Generals super field position at the Bears’ 19. Ridgewood made good on the two-point conversion when Alexander faked a handoff into the line an delivered a pass to Cody West.
A 26-yard field goal by Ridgewood’s Keith Claxon with a minute left in the third quarter opened the gap to 25-7.
Waynedale’s offensive line opened up some big holes for Stanley in the fourth quarter. He went off-tackle through the right side for a TD with 9:39 left in the game. Stanley then rambled 25 yards with 2:34 remaining to make it a five-point spread.
The Bears (0-2) tried an onside kick in an attempt to get one final possession, but it went out of bounds at the Generals’ 33, giving Ridgewood the ball at its own 35.
The knockout punch came with just 40 seconds left. Facing a third-and-24 at his own 31, Alexander found Slusser in stride down the middle and the play resulted in a 69-yard TD pass that nixed any hopes Wayndale had of comeback victory.
Ridgewood (2-0) was led offensively by Alexander, who threw for 163 yards on an 8-of-12 night with no interceptions. Kaden Smith netted 89 yards on 11 carries.
Slusser was happy to escape with the victory but was down emotionally following a knee injury to his senior center Ian Schwab.
"That’s a big blow to us if we lose him," Slusser added. "We almost snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory tonight. I don’t know what happened to us in that fourth quarter. We fell apart defensively. Good for our kids because they found a way to win. They made it way tougher than they had to, but credit Waynedale for that. Their kids gave themselves a chance."