by Christopher A. Vito, PA Prep Live
FOLSOM, PA – A bit of history went down Friday night at Phil Marion Field. But it wasn’t the kind to which Ridley fans have grown accustomed.
Marple Newtown used stout defense to fend off the hosts from Ridley, 14-12.
The Tigers took down Ridley for the first time since 2005. And not since 1971 had Marple Newtown beaten the Green Raiders in Ridley. It’s only the seventh time in school history, according to Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking, that the Tigers defeated the Green Raiders.
“That was like a heavyweight, Central League type of game in Delco,” Gicking said. “It was a really good game. If you’re a fan of football, you enjoyed this one.”
Ridley suffered its third consecutive loss — all at home. This marked only the second time in the last two decades that the Green Raiders have strung together three straight defeats. Consider that from 1966, when the school was incorporated, through 1996, there were only five seasons in which Ridley had lost three games total. Now four games into this campaign, the Green Raiders find themselves with their backs against a wall.Except for the fans occupying the Ridley grandstands, or those peering into the stadium from the backyards of their Marlin Avenue homes.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” said Ridley linebacker Shane Dougherty. “Can’t waste any time now.”
In a pairing of two teams that shared the 2016 Central League tri-championship with Springfield, this one did not disappoint.
Marple Newtown (3-1, 3-0) got control of the ball, nursing a two-point lead with 4:28 left on the clock. The Tigers’ offense, though unable to score on this particular drive, effectively managed the clock and left Ridley (1-3, 0-3) to cover 80 yards in less than two minutes. Two plays later, an interception by Marple Newtown’s Aaron Diamond locked down the win.
Diamond’s pick represented the third turnover forced by Marple Newtown’s defense. Jake Simpson recovered two second-quarter fumbles.
“Honestly,” said Simpson, a junior, “it was just being in the right place at the right time. Our guys on defense are taught to go to the ballcarrier. That’s what I did. It was a great team game for all of us.”
Marple Newtown wasted little time adding to their lead in the third quarter. The Tigers marched 68 yards on nine plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown lunge from Anthony Paoletti. That extended their advantage to 14-6.
Paoletti, who led Delaware County in passing one season ago, finished 10-for-21 with 123 yards passing. Ridley largely kept in check the senior quarterback, a Delaware commit. In fact, the Green Raiders outgained Marple Newtown’s offense, 286-249.
“All credit goes to Ridley there. They’re really good. They had a great gameplan on Anthony,” said Gicking. “We knew it would be a fourth-quarter game and come down to the final play, and it did.”
Ridley’s defensive effort could carry the Green Raiders only so far. Their offense was unable to click when the game mattered most. Their final three possessions accounted for only 25 yards on eight plays, with one turnover.
It was enough to prompt Ridley coach Dave Wood to issue a decree of to his players. He said he expects every one of them to attend Saturday’s 7:45 a.m. practice.
“If you’re not here, you’re gone,” Dougherty said. “Everybody has to commit. Everybody has to be all in. Everybody has to be mindful of the team. Everybody has to be ready. If you don’t buy in, you’re not part of the family. You’re not part of Ridley.”
Meanwhile, Marple Newtown can rest assured knowing that its defense can carry the Tigers to a big victory just as much as its high-powered offense.
“We just came out here trying to do our best, make a little history,” said Luke Jelus, a Marple Newtown linebacker. “We made a statement tonight. We proved our defense can play with anyone.”