VERMILION — North Ridgeville prepared for next week’s showdown with archrival Midview in the regular-season finale by downing the Vermilion Sailors 34-12 Friday night.
The win tied the Rangers with Midview at 4-1 and in second place in the West Shore Conference. The Middies lost Friday night to Avon, which clinched the league championship.
It wasn’t as easy a win as the score might indicate for North Ridgeville, as Vermilion trailed only 7-6 at halftime.
For the second week in a row, the Rangers (8-1, 4-1 WSC) realized that the opponent wasn’t going to lie down and let them walk to a win. Last week, Bay put on the pressure. This time, it was Vermilion.
The Sailors (1-8, 0-5) took the opening kickoff and put together a 16-play, 77-yard drive that used up 7:28, only to be stopped at the North Ridgeville 1-yard line.
“We left seven points on the board early,” Vermilion coach Ben Ohlemacher said. “It’s early in the process of getting back to where we want and we can’t afford to miss opportunities like that.
“It would have been nice to have a score lead at the half, but I don’t think any of our kids are surprised that we came out and punched them in the face because that’s kind of what we’ve been doing lately. We’re getting better and will continue to get better.”
Vermilion did put up six points with seven minutes left in the half, as workhorse tailback Jason Anthony (38 carries for 184 yards) ran in from the 4 to give the Sailors a short-lived 6-0 lead.
North Ridgeville set up shop on the Vermilion 40 following a 28-yard kick return by Christian Watkins. After an incomplete pass, Watkins gave the Rangers a 7-6 lead with a
40-yard run. David Bowden kicked the extra point.
Following the second half kickoff, North Ridgeville opened up a 14-6 lead as quarterback P.J. Bunevich connected with Watkins for a
63-yard catch-and-run touchdown. A Vermilion defender almost broke up the play, but had the ball deflect off his hands to Watkins.
“We called a simple hitch play but their safety was up close so they converted it,” North Ridgeville coach Jeff Riesen said. “It was supposed to go to the outside but Christian went inside and made a good play on the ball.”
Tailback David Bowden figured in on the next two Rangers touchdowns. He ran in from the 14 for the first score and then scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 60-yard run around left end.
That play followed Vermilion’s second touchdown, which came at the end of the third quarter on a 14-yard pass from Seth Konrad to Anthony.
“It felt good tonight,” Bowden said. “I give my line credit. It was the best we could do. We came out and did what we had to do.
“The line got up, I got the runs, scored the touchdowns and we got the win.”
The stage is set for the regular-season finale.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or email@example.com.