NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The Rangers were a quarter from improving to 3-0.
But North Olmsted had its own perfect record to protect, and North Ridgeville saved its worst mistakes for the most inopportune times.
The Eagles (3-0) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns Friday to hand North Ridgeville its first loss, 35-28.
North Ridgeville (2-1) was its own worst enemy. The Rangers racked up six penalties for 66 yards in the fourth quarter, giving the Eagles first downs when the Rangers needed stops.
“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” North Ridgeville coach Jeff Riesen said. “North Olmsted came in here and played really good football tonight.
“Their offensive and defensive lines gave us problems. And their quarterback, Brad Novak, is a proven winner. He executed their offense very well.”
The game started as if it was going to be a shootout, with both teams scoring touchdowns in the first and second quarters.
North Olmsted added a third score with a little over a minute to play and took a 21-14 lead into the locker room.
North Ridgeville came right back on the opening drive of the third quarter, going 65 yards in seven plays to even the score at 21.
North Ridgeville stopped the Eagles and took over at the North Olmsted 48-yard line following a punt.
The Rangers drove the 48 yards in 11 plays — including overcoming two holding penalties — for the go-ahead touchdown, a 20-yard run by quarterback Jason Lucas. Ryan Blagojevic’s kick gave the Rangers a 28-21 lead.
North Olmsted took advantage of a fourth-quarter interception by Matt Starcovic at North Ridgeville’s 15-yard line to tie the game at 28 on Novak’s 4-yard touchdown.
With 6:54 left, North Olmsted put together the winning 74-yard drive with a lot of help from the Rangers.
North Ridgeville committed three huge penalties — all personal fouls, including a 15-yard face mask. With 3:31 left, tailback Benny Kurscak put the Eagles on top with a 2-yard run. Ben Lyons’ kick made it 35-28.
A final interception sealed the Rangers’ fate with 1:47 left.
“Our kids played real well tonight,” North Olmsted coach Tom Brediger said. “They have some very talented kids. They have a quarterback that passes and runs well. They have a big offensive line and, of course, their tailback.
“Our kids fought hard. We had some turnovers and penalties that created some adversity, but we have been telling the kids to overcome adversity and they did that tonight.”
Brilliant Rangers sophomore running back Demario McCall cooled down a bit after a torrid start. He rushed 19 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles after rushing for 536 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first two victories.
Contact Ron Nenadal @ 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.