Rams win to setup winner-take-all game for state berth. scoreboard
The Pleasant Ridge Rams’ football team entered Friday’s key, home contest against the Aitchison County Tigers with about a third of its roster more suited for a MASH unit impersonation than a team belonging on the gridiron.
So, with a plug-and-play approach, using more and more substitutes - plenty of them freshmen - the Rams entered a must-win situation with many athletes who have yet to begin shaving.
Yet, when it mattered most and the situation got down right hairy, the Rams may have cut it close, but had enough to mount a late 16-0 run to break open a 12-all tie and beat the Tigers, 28-18 in Easton.
Pleasant Ridge (3-5, 1-1) will now play Maranatha (2-6, 1-1) on Thursday for the second and final state playoff spot out of Class 3A District II, after coming up nails when it mattered most.
“The last few weeks we’ve had 5-6 freshmen, tonight we had seven, starting and they are learning trial by fire,” PRHS head coach Patrick McCollim said. “I would say for the most part, they’ve done a very good job. We stress fundamentals and sometimes they play like an 8th-grader once in a while, but when it comes down to making plays, I am still confident that they can make them.”
Pleasant Ridge got its first score on a Konner Walker 4-yard run at the 10:42 mark of the second quarter to break up a scoreless tie.
The Rams saw the Tigers tie the game at 6-6 and later go up 12-6 on a 98-yard scoring run later in the quarter, but a Glynn Smith 3-yard run with 45 seconds before halftime, sent the team to the lockers tied at 12.
The two teams locked up evenly after the break and entered the final 12 minutes still tied at 12-apiece, but the Rams finished off a big drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Breydon Baragary with 9:19 left in the game. Pleasant Ridge added a 2-point conversation by Walker to make it 20-12.
After a fumble recovery and long return, the Rams went immediately back to work.
Baragary wrapped up the short drive with another score, this time from three yards and a Jake Heckman 2-point conversion run made it 28-12 just north of five minutes left in the contest.
“We needed this bad because last week we had a shock to our confidence,” McCollim said about the 56-0 defeat at Maur Hill-Mount Academy. “The three weeks before we were gradually playing well, playing better each week and then got a big win at (Okaloosa). The young kids are gaining confidence as it goes.
“Those last two drives, we’re hoping, will make them confident in what their job is and they will make the plays next week. You have to go drive-by-drive, play-by-play right now. It’s where we are at right now. If we stay with that approach, this group can win some games.”
The Rams survived a late score by the Tigers to keep their playoff hopes alive as the new are learning the best lessons from the experienced, go-to players.
“We are a family and the players stepped up for each other,” Walker said. “When the (veterans) started making plays, it helped them gain more confidence.”