Ridge captures district title
WINDBER — Chestnut Ridge had a hard time holding onto the ball at frigid Windber Stadium on Friday night in the District 5-8 Class 2A football championship game.
The Lions sure have a vice grip on the district championship trophy, though.
Overcoming three turnovers that allowed Berlin Brothervalley to take a big chunk out of its early three-touchdown lead and a scary-looking injury to senior playmaker Phillip Dull, Ridge rode the wave of quarterback Logan Hauck’s 121 yards and two touchdowns rushing in the third quarter, Noah Dillow’s three short touchdown runs and five takeaways by an often overlooked defense in a 52-17 victory.
It was the program’s fourth district title in five years since District 5 joined the subregion with the Pittsburgh City League.
“We knew we had a good fight coming up, but we just came out and dominated,” said Hauck, who finished with 184 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to go with 77 passing yards as the Lions won for the ninth straight game and improved to 10-1.
Chestnut Ridge will return to Windber next Friday to play District 9 champion Clarion in the opening round of the PIAA tournament.
“It feels great,” quad-captain Levi Hobson said. “This feels like family, and we’re three out of four (as a senior class winning D5-8 titles).”
Ridge appeared set to make a rout of this game from the start, using Seth Harbaugh’s pick-six less than 90 seconds into the game and Justin McCoy’s 32-yard return of a fumble to set up another score in a first quarter the Lions carried, 21-0.
However, Ridge was in the giving mood in the second quarter, turning it over twice. Berlin, shackled offensively in the first 12 minutes, capitalized on the takeaways for two touchdowns and a field goal that cut the margin to 28-17 at halftime.
Ridge coach Max Shoemaker, though, remained calm.
“The kids were really down. I tried to be upbeat,” Shoemaker said. “I think they thought there was going to be an explosion or something. I said, ‘Look, guys. We’re up 11. They gave us two, and we gave them two. Really, we’re up 11-0.'”
The teams traded turnovers in the opening moments of the second half, and then it became the Hauck show. On his first carry of the quarter, he took the option up the middle, danced and cut and went 32 yards for a score. On Ridge’s next two offensive plays, he called his own number for 52 yards, setting up a 3-yard scoring run by Dillow, who wasn’t touched until he was 2 yards in the end zone.
Hauck capped off the big quarter with runs of 11 and 26 yards, the latter accounting for his third touchdown of the night.
“At halftime, we knew we wanted to run our midline option, and we started to run a combination (with our triple-option). We started to do the combination of those two back and forth, and it got big yards for us,” Hauck said. “It’s definitely a good win, and we’re happy about it.”
The tone was set when, after Berlin recovered a Dull fumble on the second play of the second half, Harbaugh came up with his second big turnover of the game, pulling the ball right out of the hands of Berlin’s Shawn Yanosky on a flat pass to put the Lions in business on the Mountaineer 40.
“I just stood him up. I felt the ball was loose, so I just yanked it out and got it,” Harbaugh said with a grin. “Causing turnovers is a huge factor. The turnover battle was huge.”
Despite its struggles in the middle two quarters, Ridge actually ended up plus-two in takeaways, as Harbaugh and McCoy each came up with two.
“Hit a juggernaut there. In the first quarter, their starting field position was probably (our) 30-yard line. We knew, against a great team like that, you can’t make mistakes,” said Berlin coach Doug Paul, whose team finished the year 10-2. “We battled back. First drive of the third quarter was huge. We got the turnover, but then we turned it right back over to them.”
Dillow complemented Hauck’s big game by running for 83 yards on 11 carries, including 64 yards in the first half. Ridge finally brought the running clock into play on Ian Anderson’s 26-yard field goal with 7:35 left in the game.
“We made some mistakes, so we knew we had to focus and go at them again. We let off the gas pedal, and that’s what happens,” Dillow said.
The win was tempered by the serious-looking injury to Dull. Playing well on Friday after a regular season that has been truncated by injuries and baseball activities, Dull had 48 yards on three carries, a 10-yard reception and a 30-yard average on three kickoff returns before he was left motionless following a tackle at the end of the third quarter.
He was taken from the field with his head immobilized and his facemask removed. A Ridge band member also collapsed during the halftime performance and was taken in an ambulance.
“It dampens things, and certainly our prayers go out to him. Thankfully, the on-field report was positive,” Shoemaker said, echoing comments of several of Dull’s teammates.
Ridge lost in the first round of states last year to Kane, but the Lions won’t play the Wolves this year, as Clarion knocked off the defending District 9 champions on Friday.
“This feels great, but our goals aren’t accomplished yet. We’re trying to win a state playoff game,” Dillow said.
“We’ve got to play like we did the first quarter next week,” Hobson said.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Berlin Brothersvalley 0 17 0 0 — 17
Chestnut Ridge 21 7 21 3 — 52
CR–Harbaugh 33 interception return (Anderson kick), 10:38.
CR–Dillow 3 run (Anderson kick), 6:05.
CR–Hauck 3 run (Anderson kick), 4:14.
BB–Hersch 6 run (Raupach kick), 9:32.
CR–Dillow 2 run (Anderson kick), 6:22.
BB–Raupach 29 FG, 2:46.
BB–Custer 11 pass from Brick (Raupach kick), 0:17.7.
CR–Hauck 32 run (Anderson kick), 9:32.
CR–Dillow 3 run (Anderson kick), 5:41.
CR–Hauck 26 run (Anderson kick), 1:00.
CR–Anderson 26 FG, 7:35.
RUSHING: Berlin Brothersvalley–Hersch 17-68, O’Neal 5-52, Yanosky 3-5, Blubaugh 2-8, Paul 1-(-1), Spochart 1-(-2). Chestnut Ridge–Dillow 11-83, Hauck 17-184, Dull 3-48, McGill 2-10, Holderbaum 2-3, B. Harbaugh 1-4, Yingling 1-1.
PASSING: Berlin Brothersvalley–Brick 15-27-3-124, Spochart 0-1-0-0, TEAM 0-1-0-0. Chestnut Ridge–Hauck 6-10-0-77.
RECEIVING: Berlin Brothersvalley–Yanosky 2-14, Hersch 4-29, Harding 1-14, Custer 5-41, Paul 1-5, Spochart 2-15. Chestnut Ridge–Dull 1-10, Snyder 2-21, Dillow 1-33, McGill 1-7, S. Harbaugh 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Berlin Brothersvalley–. Chestnut Ridge–S. Harbaugh, McGill, McCoy.
TEAM STATISTICS BB CR
First downs 15 13
Rushes-yards 29-130 37-233
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 15-29-3 6-10-0
Yards passing 124 77
Total yards 254 310
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-3
Penalties-yards 1-5 6-56
Punts-avg. 3-19.0 1-29.0