COSHOCTON – Stewart Field has been a rough place to play for West Lafayette Ridgewood over the years.
On Friday the host Coshocton Redskins put an end to Ridgewood’s 19-game regular season winning streak with a 30-25 victory in a battle of Coshocton County schools.
Coincidentally, the last Generals loss came on this very same field two years ago.
“This is a big win,” Coshocton coach Marty Arganbright said. “They had won 19 straight and they are a good football team that will win a lot of games this season.”
Both teams are young and in a big game like this both head coaches learned about their squads.
“We didn’t execute very well all night and we did some dumb things that aren’t characteristic of us,” RHS coach John Slusser said. “I can’t fault the effort or the intensity and to be honest I wondered coming in here how we would respond.
“I don’t want to sound mean, but I was almost surprised because I wondered if we would wilt under the pressure but we didn’t and we kept battling.”
The first quarter was a struggle on both sides and the only scoring came on a 25-yard field goal by Coshocton’s Trevor Bradford at the 2:13 mark of the first quarter.
Ridgewood finally found its stride in the second quarter as a 49-yard scamper by junior Derrick Young put the Generals in position to score. Bruising junior running back Zach Queen (266 pounds) plowed in from two yards out with 10:49 left in the first half for a 6-3 lead.
Sophomore Jake Conrad intercepted a Logan Heubner pass to give Ridgewood the ball back and once again Queen found the end zone to make it 12-3 after the kick failed at the 3:50 mark.
All the momentum that Ridgewood had was erased just two plays later when explosive sophomore Marcus Johnston raced 43 yards for a touchdown to trim the margin to 12-9 with 3:25 left in the half and that’s how it ended.
“That was a huge score for us,” Arganbright said. “It gave us all the momentum going into halftime.
“What was real nice about that drive is that we put it in the end zone which is something we need to do is take advantage of our opportunities to score.”
A Ridgewood fumble set up Coshocton in excellent field position early in the third quarter and with 6:36 left in the period junior Ian Chrisman scored from a yard out and with Bradford’s kick the hosts were up 16-12.
After a Ridgewood punt the ‘Skins (2-0) went on the move again.
Heubner found Alex Hunt for a 13-yard completion on third down and two plays later Johnston found pay dirt from 33 yards away to make it 23-12 after Bradford’s extra point with 3:00 to play in the third.
“Marcus was able to make some big plays for us, but Kody Ball deserves a lot of the credit for his blocking,” Arganbright said. “We knew we would have to try and get outside against their defense to try and loosen up the middle.”
The strategy worked to perfection later in the fourth quarter.
The Generals got a six-yard scoring plunge from Young to trim the margin to 23-18 with 5:16 to play in the game.
Coshocton dodged a major bullet on its next drive when a fumbled exchange on third-and-eight was picked up by Chrisman who rambled 24 yards for a first down.
Five plays later Johnston capped the drive with an 18-yard run on a fourth-and-one at the 1:16 mark to salt the game away.
“My hat goes off to them,” Slusser said. “They were able to make plays with their athletes and did enough to get the win.
“Turnovers really hurt us tonight and that’s something that isn’t characteristic of us.”
The Generals actually won the turnover battle coughing up a pair of fumbles while the hosts committed three miscues, but the Orange and Black had four other fumbles that caused drives to stumble.
Chrisman accounted for 68 yards rushing on the 75 yard drive.
“Once we got the outside established we were able to start controlling the line of scrimmage,” Arganbright said. “I think our depth had a lot to do with that.”
Ridgewood wouldn’t go quietly as Conrad scored with four ticks left on the clock from six yards out and Skyler McQuiston’s point after capped the scoring as the Redskins were able to pounce on an onside kick attempt.
Johnston ended the night with 129 yards rushing and three scores while Chrisman finished with 117 yards and a score.
Young led Ridgewood’s offensive effort with 117 yards rushing and a score while also racking up 12 tackles defensively.
Devan Kimberley and Matt Thomas each had eight stops for Coshocton with Thomas also recording a pair of sacks.
Things don’t get any easier for these county rivals next Friday as Coshocton travels to Millersburg West Holmes and the Generals return home to take on their other county rival Warsaw River View.