To give you an idea of just how explosive this unbeaten Ridge High School football team is, consider that the Red Devils were clinging to a seven-point lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half Friday night.
With 6:53 remaining in the third quarter, less than seven minutes of playing time later, the mercy rule was invoked after Ridge opened a 35-point lead.
Watchung Hills was able to put the clock operator back to work, albeit briefly, as Ridge improved to 9-0 with a resounding 42-6 victory Friday night that was every bit as dominant as the score indicated.
Connor Hughes completed 10 of 11 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game after Ryan Bell’s second spectacular touchdown grab with 9:23 to play in the third quarter.
Ridge’s defense was every bit as dominant, limiting Watchung Hills’ Ryan Cunningham, who entered with nearly 1,300 rushing yards and a 10-plus-yard rushing average, to a mere 18 yards on nine carries. The Warriors did not complete a pass, either.
In fairness, Watchung Hills quarterback Joe Giacomo left the game due to an injury late in the second quarter and the Warriors offense never got back in gear.
Ridge stormed 63 yards down the field in eight plays on its first possession, finishing with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to Michael Dunsheath for a 7-0 lead less than six minutes in.
The Red Devils looked far from perfect on their next two possessions, fumbling the ball away on both. The first came at the Watchung Hills 13, killing a drive that began at the Warriors 27. The next came on a fair catch of a punt.
But Ridge returned to form on its next possession, a 75-yard, six-play blitz that began with three Hughes’ completions and a keeper for first downs. Hughes then connected with Bell, who made a nifty, one-handed grab in the far left corner of the end zone to double the lead to 14-0 with 1:01 left in the half.
“The turnovers were kind of big and let us down a little,” Hughes said.
Hughes completed eight of nine passes to five different receivers for 102 yards in the first half while Watchung Hills failed to complete a pass.
Ridge broke the game open by scoring three touchdowns in the first 4:12 of the second half.
R – Dunsheath 17 pass from Hughes (Hughes kick)
R – Bell 5 pass from Hughes (Hughes kick)
R – Bell 10 pass from Hughes (Hughes kick)
R – Franzese 53 run (Hughes kick)
R – Chiriaco 20 int. return (Hughes kick)
WH – Gomes 80 run (kick failed)
R – Phillips 27 run (Cortigiani kick)
RUSHING: R – Franzese 6-79, McGuire 7-37, Hughes 6-34, Derkasch 10-34, Dunsheath 3-15, Walsh 2-13, Phillips 5-48, Mueller 2-0; WH – Gomes 4-90, Giacomo 12-36, Rozmerski 1-28, Cunningham 9-18, Cihanowicz 1-1, Tekin 2-(-2).
PASSING: R – Hughes 10-11-0-143, Muller 2-3-0-26; WH – Giacomo 0-3-0-0, Tekin 0-2-1-0.
RECEIVING: R – Bell 5-65, Chiarico 3-41,Derkasch 2-37, Dunsheath 1-17, Franzese 1-9.