NEW PORT RICHEY - River Ridge forced seven Ridgewood turnovers, five of which came in the first half, as it rolled to a 30-12 Homecoming victory against the rival Rams.
The Royal Knights intercepted three passes and recovered four fumbles Thursday night. Two of the first-half turnovers came inside the River Ridge 10 as the Rams were preparing to score. "I was happy we caused some turnovers and then didn't turn around and give them right back," said River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro. "We finally played a good, full game. We've played a quarter of a game, a half of a game and three-quarters of a game. Tonight we played a full game."
River Ridge jumped to an early 7-0 lead three minutes in when on the fifth play, Homecoming king Sam Bell broke free for a 33-yard touchdown run. The senior led the Royal Knights with 51 yards on eight carries.
After the teams traded turnovers and punts, River Ridge found pay dirt again. Lineman Anthony Vento's recovered his second fumble of the half, then junior Phil Petrini scampered in from 28 yards out, giving the Knights a 14-0 advantage.
Ridgewood lost a fumble on its next possession, its third in a row. On the ensuing play, River Ridge quarterback Mike Gregory found Petrini for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Rams turned the ball over for the fourth consecutive series on their first play of their next drive. Three plays later, Knight kicker Cameron Baker booted a 49-yard field goal, giving River Ridge a 24-0 halftime lead.
"Not going to win too many games when you turn the ball over five times in one half of football," Rams coach Troy Cornwell said.
Ridgewood finally found the end zone with 2:49 left in the third quarter when Andre Richard scored on a 10-yard run. This followed an 85-yard halfback pass from David Williams to Erich Heymann. Richard led the Rams with 65 yards on 11 carries. Kevin Galason recovered the ensuing onside kick, then three plays later scored on a 20-yard run.