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Ridgewood wins Metro Suburban opener

September 28, 2011
By Kevin Szaflik of WRHS Radio/Television

Ridgewood running back P.J. O’Connor rushed for 210 yards, including the 54-yard, go-ahead touchdown, to lead the host Rebels past Riverside-Brookfield 25-20 Friday night.

O’Connor’s game-winning score came with 10 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game, but he didn’t stop there. The senior provided all the ground support the Rebels (2-3, 1-0 Metro Suburban Conference) would need to run out the clock and secure the victory when they regained possession with 3:39 to play on their own 19-yard line.

O’Connor strung together runs of 8, 31, 19, 2, 2 and 14 that resulted in three very important first downs before the Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1) ran out of timeouts and the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“We needed big plays and our linemen opened up some nice holes for me,” said O’Connor, who picked up 156 yards on 11 carries in the second half. “We made adjustments and they worked out. Our quarterback, Joe Jacobsen, also came up big, calling audibles, seeing open gaps, and telling me which side to run to and things just went great. I want playoffs and this was a stepping stone — one game at a time.”

R-B had taken a 20-19 edge after three unanswered touchdowns, the first coming as time was running out in the first half. Bulldogs senior quarterback Dylan Beketic hit junior wide receiver Joe Odeh with a 32-yard strike to make it 19-6 at halftime.

The Bulldogs came out running in the second half, putting the ball in the end zone on a 12-yard run by junior Tyler Floros at the 3:18 mark and again with 19 seconds left when Beketic took a QB keeper in from 15 yards out to put R-B ahead 20-19.

But O’Connor put an end to the Bulldogs short-lived lead four plays later with his electrifying 54-yard romp.

O’Connor had 54 yards on nine carries in the first half, and made other contributions to help stake Ridgewood to an early 19-0 advantage. He returned the opening kickoff 88 yards to set up the Rebels’ first touchdown — a 7-yard pass from Jacobsen (13-of-24, 141 yards, 2 TDs) to Adam Kutylowski on the first play from scrimmage.

Jacobsen found Eduardo Benitez with a 13-yard scoring strike with 4:50 remaining in the opening period but a high snap resulted in a blocked extra point as the Rebels went up 13-0.

Ridgewood went on a 12-play, 84-yard drive the next time it had the ball that ended when O’Connor, who also caught four passes for 42 yards, took a handoff on a reverse and romped in untouched from 13 yards out to give the Rebels a 19-0 lead with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

“This was like three different games,” Ridgewood head coach Chris Zack said. “First we come out with a successful offense led by our passing game (141 yards in the first half) and were able to put some points on the board. Our defense was also strong during that time, but then in the second half, we can’t make any play on defense to stop the run and we can’t do anything on offense either — until they take the lead. Then we make a huge stop on defense when they were in the red zone before C.J and our O-line put the offense on their shoulders and lead us to the win.”

Article written by Contributro Rick Behren on September 23, 2011 and Updated: September 26, 2011 2:12 PM in the Sun Times Pioneer Press Norridge and Harwood Heights News at http://norridge.suntimes.com/7841152-417/ridgewood-wins-metro-suburban-opener.html

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