East Ridge football: Wheels 'fall off' in 38-3 season-ending loss to Eastview
Following a historic regular season, the East Ridge football team’s year came unraveled a game shy of the Class 6A state tournament.
East Ridge, the top seed in Section 4AAAAAA, lost 38-3 to Eastview, the fourth seed in Section 3AAAAAA, in the Sweet 16 round of the prep football playoffs on Friday, Nov. 11, at The Nest in Woodbury.
Eastview (6-4) capitalized on numerous East Ridge mistakes to punch a ticket to the state tournament. East Ridge (8-2) had four turnovers on downs, three fumbles, a botched field goal, a muffed punt, an interception and three personal fouls in the loss.
“The wheels just fell off,” East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said. “It’s hard to explain. I’m dumbfounded, really.”
The third quarter was a nightmare for the Raptors.
East Ridge – the 2013 Suburban East Conference champions - actually had momentum in early in the second half. Down 3-0 in the first half, the Raptors held Eastview to a three-and-out to start the second half. East Ridge followed suit with an 8-play drive capped by a 25-yard field goal by freshman kicker Grant Ryerse to tie the game 3-3 with 8:05 left to play in the third. East Ridge junior defensive back Kyle Orehosky then intercepted a pass by Eastview senior quarterback Mark Dwyer at the Raptors’ goal line and returned it to the 28-yard line.
But, that’s when things went sideways for the Raptors.
Eastview held East Ridge to a three-and-out on its next possession, then went ahead 10-3 on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Davis Burnham with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter. The score was set up by a 59-yard pass play to senior tight end Chris Ferber down to the Raptors’ 1-yard line.
On the ensuing kickoff, the East Ridge returners failed to pick up the ball and Eastview recovered it on the Raptors’ 20-yard line. On second-and-6, Dwyer hit senior receiver Montrell Moore with a 10-yard fade pass in the corner of the end zone to make it a 17-3 game with 1:39 left in the third. Two plays into its next drive, East Ridge fumbled on its own 35-yard line. Eastview recovered the ball and, after a long pass play set up third-and-goal at the Raptors’ 5-yard line, the Lightning went ahead 24-3 on a 2-yard touchdown run by junior running back Will Rains with 22.1 seconds remaining in the third.
“Three straight series we give them the ball at the 20,” Pendino said. “They’re a good football team, they took advantage and did a nice job.”
To start the fourth quarter, East Ridge turned the ball over on downs for a fourth time in the game after failing to get a first down on a fourth-and-1 on its own 47-yard line. East Ridge was 2-for-6 in the game on fourth down. Eastview capitalized once again as Rains ran in a five-yard touchdown to make it 30-3 with 8:44 left to play. East Ridge then fumbled on its next possession and Burnham scored for the Lightning to make it a 38-3 game with 7:27 on the clock. Both teams put their backups in at that point.
“After we kicked that field goal I think we just lost our will,” East Ridge freshman running back Dominik London said. “We played like we didn’t really want it. It just went downhill from there.”
East Ridge played the game without senior running back Nick Leach, who was lost to a knee injury three games into the season, along with senior center and Alabama recruit J.C. Hassenauer, who hurt his knee in the regular season finale and sophomore receiver Kjetil Cline, who was out with a sprained ankle.
“Those guys were tools that we really needed today, but we can’t control who gets hurt,” London said. “We tried to fill in and do our best.”
East Ridge sophomore quarterback Seth Green was 8-for-19 passing in the game with 92 yards and an interception. London ran the ball 21 times for 109 yards and a fumble and senior tight end George Behr caught four balls for 59 yards.
East Ridge had 246 total yards in the game. Eastview had 281 total yards.
“It sucks,” East Ridge senior defensive tackle Marcus London said. “I think the defense played well. We were getting stops. We were just waiting for the offense. They gave it their all I think. There’s not much we could do. They’re a good team. I’m proud.”
It was the second straight year East Ridge was one game short of a state tournament berth.
“We had a great season here,” Pendino said. “We won that conference championship, which was great. But, you play for the second half and we haven’t gotten it done yet in the second half.”
East Ridge must now say good-bye to 29 seniors.
“We’re going to miss all those guys dearly,” Pendino said. “They’ve all been around for three years and have done a hell of a job. But, you have to move on and that’s what we’ll do.”