Elk Grove's Ridge scores 7 touchdowns in victory over Wheeling
Elk Grove junior running back Ian Ridge scored 7 touchdowns Friday night as the Grenadiers scored a wildly entertaining 56-33 win over Wheeling.
Ridge finished with an extraordinary 422 yards rushing on 33 carries, and after the game gave most of the credit to his offensive line.
"If it wasn't for my blocking," said Ridge, "I couldn't have done any of the things I did today. It's all them, and I thank them every time."
Elk Grove offensive lineman Antonio Sandoval not only anchored a sterling effort in the trenches, but also, as the Grens kicker, was a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points.
"We didn't back down tonight," said Sandoval, a senior. "We knew this wasn't going to be an easy game."
The final score was certainly not indicative of how close the game was all the way through. Wheeling led midway through the second quarter and trailed most of the second half by one score or less.
A big defensive play from Grens defensive back Shane Crimmins late in the fourth helped seal the win for Elk Grove.
Wheeling sophomore wide receiver Joe Mitroi came up clutch in the absence of Daniel Provost, the Wildcats leading receiver who was out with a knee injury.
Mitroi caught 9 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
"Since Danny was out, I knew I had to step up, "the sophomore said. "Really, just make plays out there and do everything I could.
"It was an exciting game. We worked extremely hard (in practice) all week, probably harder than we've worked all season."
Visiting Elk Grove trailed early, but took a 21-13 halftime lead as Ridge had three first-half touchdown runs from 11, 4 and 23 yards out. Wheeling quarterback Austin Hembd threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mitroi and ran in from 10 yards away to account for the Wildcats' first- half scores.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter; a 10-yard Ridge run, a
1-yard scoring run by Wheeling's Paul Ufir, a 40- yard pass from Hembd to Ufir, and a 37-yard strike by Grens quarterback Charlie Janczak to Mark Matos.
Ufir had another touchdown run (6 yards) to start the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats were driving for a go-ahead score when Crimmins stepped in front of a Wheeling receiver for a big interception deep in Elk Grove territory.
Then, Ridge scored three more times on runs of 1, 8 and 43 yards to put the game away for the Grenadiers.
"The atmosphere out here really got us pumped up," Ridge said. "All my brothers fought together tonight, and when we do that we really come alive. We're a dangerous team.
"This was an important victory for us. We've been battling all year and we want to give our seniors the best season we can, so we fought to get this win."
Ufir finished with 136 yards on the ground for Wheeling.
"Great job by Ian. He's a dynamic kid and he made things happen tonight," said Elk Grove coach Miles Osei. "And it was a great job by the line.
"Our offense got in a groove and did some good things, Now we're going to watch the film and try to get better for next week."