By Steve Lienert, Delaware County Daily Times
October 16, 2010
Making matters worse, Green Raiders running back Shahaid Smith had just five carries for a mere 21 yards.
Ridley, however, scored on all five of its second-half possessions en route to a 46-21 win over Marple Newtown.
Smith racked up 241 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the second half alone to pace the Green Raiders (7-0, 6-0).
“The first half, we just weren’t executing,” Smith said. “In the second half, (Coach Keith Decker) came in said, If we want to play like we’re No. 1 in the state, then we need to act like it. We came out, we executed and scored on the first drive and from there it just led to good things.”
Until then, though, it was anything but easy.
Marple Newtown (2-4, 1-5) took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in 17 plays, capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Billy Weaverling, to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Marple Newtown ran the ball on 16 of the 17 plays and ate nine minutes, 17 seconds off the clock.
“We had a limited game plan on what we did,” Marple Newtown head coachRay Gionta said. “That scoreboard does not tell the story of this game. Our kids competed hard against one of the top teams in the state.”
Ridley responded with a 74-yard drive of its own and tied the game on the first play of the second quarter after running back Jalen Randolph ran in for a score from eight yards out.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Green Raiders took their first lead of the contest when return man Dion Shaw zigzagged his way through the Marple Newtown punt team 84 yards to the Tigers’ one-yard line.
In the midst of celebrating, Shaw dropped the ball, but Randolph alertly picked it up and carried it the rest of the way to give Ridley a 14-7 lead.
Later, Ridley’s sloppiness continued after Randolph was stripped from behind. His fumble was recovered by the Tigers and two plays later running back Ryan White scampered in from 25-yards out to tie the game heading into halftime.
“I thought that the first half, we just didn’t execute,” Ridley head coach Kevin Decker said. “They did some good things on defense and made some plays, but honestly I thought we were stopping ourselves.”
Ridley took and opening kickoff of the second half and, following five consecutive runs by Smith, regained the lead. But a missed extra point made it 20-14 and Marple Newtown took advantage.
The Tigers responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive capped by an eight-yard scamper by White (13 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the game) to take a 21-20 lead.
From there, however, it was all downhill for Marple Newtown.
“We thought it may be one of those magical night,” Gionta said. “(Ridley’s) athleticism is just unbelievable. Our kids played hard. They played with a lot of heart tonight.”
On its next possession, Ridley used the halfback option to beat Marple’s defense. Running back Norm Donkin connected with Shaw for a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Green Raiders the lead for good.
The Tigers managed just one first down the rest of the way, while Smith registered touchdown runs of two-, three- and four-yards for Ridley to help put the game away.
“A little more concentration, a little more focus on what we needed to do,” Decker said. “I told the kids at halftime, Go out and execute and play football the way we are capable of playing and we’ll be fine.”