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After a long skid to county rival Pasco, Ridgewood finally wins 22-13.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published September 2, 2006
DADE CITY - Back in the day, a Ridgewood carry would have been fumbled into waiting hands, a pass would have been intercepted, long run after long run would have doomed the defense to another embarrassing performance, and a lead would have slipped away.
But no more.
"Tonight, we showed them about the new Ridgewood," Rams running back Byronell Arline said.
New Ridgewood, behind some special teams magic and the aggressive play-calling of a coach convinced he can turn the moribund program around, stunned long-time nemesis Pasco on Friday 22-13, sending the Pirates crowd at W.F. Edwards Stadium home scratching their heads.
"That," said Ridgewood coach Chris Taylor, "was fun."
Taylor was doused after the game in what has to be the most thorough soaking a coach has ever received. But he deserved it as the Rams beat Pasco for just the second time in 15 tries and the first time since 1988.
"A lot of the defenders out here today, we got drilled by Pasco last year (36-0). ...We were fired up about that," linebacker Ben Perry said.
"We got the lead, we got hungry and we wanted to keep it."
The Rams (2-0) never trailed.
A 24-yard run on a fake punt by Sean Gillespie set up Arline's first-quarter touchdown from 3 yards out, and after Pasco tied it before the half on Josh Johnson's pass to Demetrious Larry, Ridgewood took the second-half kickoff and marched 69 yards for a 14-7 lead.
The Pirates (0-2) came right back with a score with 2:43 left in the third quarter when Johnson ran in from the 3, but went for a two-point conversion and failed.
With 7:07 left in the game, they got the ball back with another chance to take the lead, still down 14-13.
On the Pirates' second play, Ridgewood linebacker Steven Bybie broke through to disrupt a handoff, and Ian Beckett picked up the fumble and ran 28 yards to make it 21-13.
A Pasco penalty put the ball at the 1, so Taylor decided to hammer the final nail in Pasco's coffin and went for two.
"We took a chance on that two-point conversion," he said. "But I told my kids, we came here to win."
Arline, who ran for 106 yards on 22 carries, bashed his way in to all but seal the Pirates fate.
Pasco outrushed Ridgewood 238 yards to 145, but couldn't seem to come up with the big play when it needed it thanks to a Ram defense led by Ben Perry.
"They believe they can win now," Taylor said.
"For a school that has never really won, they are starting to believe they can win. And that's all I'm asking for."