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Ridge improves to 3-0 on season

September 14, 2013
By BRAD VanFOSSAN - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

MINERAL RIDGE - The Mineral Ridge Rams came into their 2013 home debut looking to go 3-0, taking on the Southern Indians, a former Inter Tri-County League, Division I, opponent.

While it took a while to get points on the board - three quarters to be exact - Mineral Ridge came away with the 24-0 victory, giving first-year coach Doug Velasquez a perfect start to the season.

"Our offensive line is young, it took us awhile to get going," Velasquez said. "But we showed a lot of heart and fight. Our quarterback (Jon Baker) made some nice throws, and our defense played great, they made it so we could go for it on a couple of fourth downs because of our faith in them."

The Rams, now in Division II of the ITCL, came in to Friday's game averaging 25.5 points per game. But after the first half, it didn't look like the Rams would reach that mark, as the score was 0-0 after the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, the Rams got things going through the air as Baker connected on back-to-back passes of almost identical length, a 30-yard strike to Ethan Dukes, followed by a 28-yard pass to Corey Phillips. This set up a 30-yard field goal by Tracy Cross, giving the Rams a 3-0 lead.

Though the lead was all the Rams needed, they tacked on a few more scores.

On the following Southern possession, quarterback Jared Shilot scrambled for a 34-yard gain, only to fumble on the next play, with Ridge's Nick Ferguson recovering on the Rams' 49. Mineral Ridge took advantage of the gift as a few plays later, running back Josh Goss punched it in from 2 yards out, scoring his first of two touchdowns, giving Ridge a 10-0 lead. Goss, who scored his second touchdown of the night with 18 seconds left, led the Rams with 70 yards rushing on 12 carries.

In between the Goss touchdowns, Baker found Dukes for a 38-yard score. Baker finished the game 8 of 16 for 129 yards and a touchdown. Dukes led the team with four catches for 89 yards.

The best chance Southern had to get on the score board was on its fifth drive of the game, which was in the second quarter. The Indians were forced to punt on their first four drives, but got down to the Rams 26-yard line on their fifth drive, which stalled late in the second quarter after a failed pass attempt on fourth and 6.

Running back Michael McKenzie and quarterback Jared Shilot ran hard on that drive, which covered 41 yards and ended up being the Indians deepest penetration of the game.

Shilot led Southern in rushing with 64 yards on 10 carries and McKenzie added 29 yards on 14 attempts, and also caught a pass for 18 yards.

"It was a battle in the first half," Southern coach Mike Skrinjar said. "We stressed eliminating the big play. These guys (Mineral Ridge) can hit you with one either way. We did a good job of that until the second half, I told my team losing is unacceptable, but I'm proud of my seniors and told them to continue to keep their heads up, they showed great leadership."

Mineral Ridge will look to go 4-0 next week at Lowellville, while the Indians (1-2) are at United.