WEST LAFAYETTE -- On paper, Friday night's Inter-Valley Conference match-up between the unbeaten host Ridgewood High Generals and the Newcomerstown Trojans seemed to be tilted decidedly in the Generals' favor.
However, as so many times is the case in this annual Orange and Black backyard brawl, you can throw out the records and expect a battle. Such was the way it went this time around as Ridgewood emerged with a 23-6 victory to improve to 10-0 on the season and capture the IVC title.
"I told the kids that win or lose tonight, if we did our very best we would be winners now and winners in life," Newcomerstown coach Eric Brock said. "I'm very happy with the way they responded."
Brock would have been hard pressed to script a better start to the game, as the Generals committed a pair of first quarter turnovers.
Ridgewood's first miscue came on its first play of the night when senior quarterback Kevin Davis' pass attempt was picked off by Trojan senior Serafin Sanchez.
Newcomerstown was unable to move the football, however, and punted the ball back to RHS, which took over on its 33-yard line. Jay McVay ripped off a 10-yard run on first down and it appeared the Generals were getting a drive started.
Just as quickly, the Ridgewood march was stalled as Nick Bellik coughed up the pigskin and Newcomerstown's Marquece 'Bubba' Harris fell on the football for the fumble recovery.
This time, the Trojans were able to capitalize on the turnover, putting together 57-yard, four-play drive for the game's first score. Newcomerstown senior QB Darian Arnold connected with sophomore Chandler Shryock on a 25-yard scoring strike with 4:22 on the clock for a 6-0 lead, after Harris' PAT kick was blocked by Trent Lingo.
"I was extremely happy with the way we started," Brock related. "We came out ready to play and moved the ball pretty well, but I thought we could have gotten another score early would have helped our cause."
Ridgewood quickly responded, taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 75 yards in seven plays to tie the contest at 6-6 on a six-yard run by Bellik with 1:42 left in the opening quarter. Bret Mitchell's PAT kick gave Ridgewood the lead at 7-6.
To open the second stanza, Ridgewood extended its lead to 10-6 on a 24-yard field goal from Mitchell at the 9:44 mark.
With time winding down in the first half, the Generals were able to reach paydirt once again as Jarod Conrad hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Davis with 2:59 on the clock. Mitchell's PAT kick pushed the Ridgewood lead to 16-6 at the halftime intermission.
Ridgewood tallied the lone second half touchdown in the third quarter when, at the 6:36 mark, Conrad reeled in his second TD catch of the night from Davis, this one coming from 11 yards out for the final 23-6 score.
Ridgewood had a slim 200-172 edge in total yards, with 146 of that total coming on the ground. Bellik led the way for RHS with 57 yards on 10 carries.
Newcomerstown (5-5, 3-4 IVC) found its success through the air as Arnold hit on 13-of-31 passes for 123 yards. Shryock finished with six receptions for 46 yards and a score.
"Darian did a great job all year as our quarterback," Brock continued. "For a kid who never played the position before, he was outstanding. On the touchdown pass, he was able to keep his eyes down the field and then made a good throw."
Ridgewood wrapped up an OHSAA Division V, Region 19 playoff spot with the win, sending the Generals into Week 11 action.
"I thought Newcomerstown played really well tonight," Ridgewood coach John Slusser said. "They were well-prepared and well- coached. The pressure on our kids is always there and tonight we battled and found a way to get a win."