WEST LAFAYETTE -- One big play, one big stop, one huge win.
That's what it came down to on a wet, sloppy Friday night as the Generals and Jake Conrad made the most of their IVC and playoff opportunities with a huge 27-26 win over Malvern.
With 1:41 to play and the Hornets just having scored to pull within one point, the entire season boiled down to one goal line stance as the teams lined up for the two-point conversion. Overtime was not an option in this one. The ball was going to be snapped and only three yards of turf was the difference for an outright lead in the IVC and a ton of playoff points for whoever pushed the hardest either way.
Final result? A two and a half yard dive (maybe even 2-7/8) to the corner of the end zone by quarterback Doug Wood and a big game-stopping, crowd-gasping hit by Conrad added up to a victory celebration for the Generals in a nail-biter classic that will be talked about for ages.
Woods was ruled out of bounds just before the pylon and its amazing to think that possibly the IVC championship and post season playoff run for either team came down to one inch, two at the most.
Conrad, who seems to be everywhere and anywhere at any given moment on the field, even came through with an interception on a double pass by the Hornets to end the game.
Ridgewood is now 9-0, including 6-0 in league play. The Generals are currently No. 8 in Division V, Region 19 while the Hornets (8-1, 5-1 IVC) are No. 1 in Division VI, Region 23. Ridgewood definitely needed the win while Malvern will probably still be in the top eight despite the setback. And just to add insult to injury, the Generals snapped the Hornet 21-game regular season win streak.
The dramatics created to get to that dramatic point were just as dramatic, so to speak. The Hornets were behind 20-13 with eight minutes left in the game when a double reverse call resulted in a Zach Johnson 40-yard TD run. Johnson's PAT kick made it 20-20.
Ridgewood soon found itself in trouble though at its own 35 with fourth-and-11. A gutsy fake punt was called with the ball going to Conrad instead of the punter. Conrad fired a 15-yard pass to Austin Bates for the first down and new life for the Generals.
The play picked up the spirits of the Orange and Black, who romped the rest of the way downfield with Nick Bellik carrying the last 15 yards on a sweep. Skylor McQuiston's extra point, one of three on the night, made it 27-20.
Malvern took the ensuing kickoff and Wood quickly connected with Travis Tucci on a 39-yarder. Maurice Johnson finished the drive with his second TD run of the night (the first was a 40-yarder in the second quarter) with a 13-yard run to the big house. Malvern coach Dennis Tucci never hesitated and immediately signaled for the 2-point conversion attempt. It was the same setup and play that won the game for the Hornets against Central Catholic two weeks ago, 36-35.
Conrad was standing on the sidelines watching that play. This time he was on the field stopping it.
The Generals had 234 yards rushing with Conrad corralling 116 of those with three scores (1, 11, and 2 yards). Colt Landis contributed 57 yards while James Wiggins tacked on another 30.
Hornet senior Maurice Johnson topped all runners with 195 yards on 27 carries. Wood was 3-of-8 for 78 yards with all yardage being gained on two passes to Tucci, including a 39-yard scoring strike in the first quarter. Steven Dishong carried six times for 55 yards while Zach Johnson tacked on 50 stripes.
The Ridgewood punt return team came through with two blocked punts, including one by Richard Hawthorne that eventually turned into six points.
The Generals look to clinch the IVC title outright by closing out the regular season with a trip to Newcomerstown this Friday. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
Ridgewood 6 14 0 7 - 27
Malvern 7 6 0 13 - 26
R - Conrad 1 run (kick failed)
M - Tucci 39 pass from Wood (Z. Johnson kick)
M - M. Johnson 40 run (pass failed)
R - Conrad 11 run (McQuiston kick)
R - Conrad 2 run (McQuiston kick)
M - Z. Johnson 40 run (Z. Johnson kick)
R - Bellik 15 run (McQuiston kick)
M - M. Johnson 13 run (run failed)
14 First Downs 19
45-234 Yards Rushing49-350
24 Yards Passing 78
258 Total Yards 428
2-4-0 Pass-Com/Att/Int 38-1
2-1 Fumbles/Lost 0-0
1-10 Penalties 2-15