MILLVILLE — After 17 days without playing a football game, Ridgeline returned to the gridiron for the 4A semifinals Friday evening and didn’t miss a beat.
The well-rested Riverhawks defeated Logan 50-7. Senior quarterback Kaden Cox continued his dominating season, completing 13 of 18 passes for 291 yards and five touchdowns. Aided by senior running back Noah White, who rushed for 134 yards, Ridgeline totaled 548 yards of offense.
Grizzly quarterback Kody Kirk would go 19 of 29, passing for 164 yards, but the Riverhawk defense shut down the rushing attack, holding Logan to 38 yards on 36 attempts.
“We had a good two weeks of practice, thought we cleaned up some stuff early,” Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox said. “They ran on us a little bit a couple of weeks ago so we came in here trying to stop the run, and I thought we did pretty good.”
“I thought our kids played hard,” Logan head coach Bart Bowen said. “Couldn’t get the job done. I mean, they’re a great football team.”
White had two rushing touchdowns to give Ridgeline a 15-0 lead in the first quarter. Then the Riverhawks made a number of impressive plays in the air that fueled the blowout.
In the second quarter, Cox had two 50-plus yard touchdown passes to Jackson Olsen. With 6:38 left in the first half, he lobbed it down field to Olsen, who snagged just before Logan’s Joshua Thomsen could make an interception, and strode into the end zone for a 58-yard TD reception. With 5:09 left in the half, Cox hit Olsen on a post route in stride for a 55-yard TD to give Ridgeline a 29-0 lead going into the half.
Logan’s defense mustered a couple of stops, forcing a turnover on downs in the second quarter and forcing a Cox interception in the third. But Ridgeline’s offense wasn’t deterred, scoring four touchdowns in the final 14 minutes to close the game out.
With 11:16 left in the game, Cox threw 34 yards down the sideline to Peyton Knowles, who managed to make an acrobatic TD catch with his defender’s head in between him and the ball.
“Before that play, I wanted to get him a ball,” coach Cox said. “He’s a really good player for us. He doesn’t always get a lot of chances to catch the ball because he’s been in the run game or we got a load of receivers so it was really nice to get him a ball. And whenever he gets the ball thrown to him he makes plays.”
Logan’s offense managed to move the chains at times — especially in the first half — but failed to make plays in tight situations. On fourth-and-13 in the first quarter, a pass from Kirk to Payton Cox was dropped, denying a first down in Riverhawk territory.
On the Grizzlies ensuing drive, on fourth-and-goal, a contested pass from Kirk to Gage Jenson was dropped in the end zone.
“First quarter we couldn’t execute when we needed them,” Bowen said. “We dropped balls on drives where we were moving the ball pretty well.”
Failing to establish the run game, the Logan offense had a hard time getting going the whole night. They finally got on the board with 24 seconds left in the game, when Kirk found senior Jaelin Hoth for a 20-yard TD.
Unfortunately, the game was marred by some unsportsmanlike behavior, and there appeared to be an icy interaction between coach Cox and Bowen postgame.
“He had some words but it is what it is,” Cox said. “Their season’s done and we’re going to keep going. We’re just going to worry about our team.”
Bowen opted not to comment on the chippiness that seemed to fuel discontentment on both sides.
In the second quarter, there was an unsportsmanlike penalty called on a Ridgeline player, upsetting Logan.
Early in the third quarter, Thomsen picked off a Cox pass. Following the play, he ran directly to midfield to celebrate on the Riverhawk logo in Terrell Owens-like fashion. Ridgeline players took exception to this, and mild shoving and yelling ensued. Both sides were charged with penalties.
In the fourth quarter, Logan was flagged for a late hit. Later in the possession, a Ridgeline player was flagged for taunting. After scoring their seventh touchdown to make the score 49-0, the Riverhawk offense initially stayed on the field ready to go for two, but then changed their minds and kicked the point after.
Logan students would chant “overrated,” while Ridgeline students did the “Winning Team Losing Team” chant.
“Logan is obviously a rivalry game, you could see how intense it got towards the end,” Ridgeline linebacker Will Booth said. “But you know, I have a lot of respect for some of those players. And, obviously, I’m good friends with a couple of them. So it was fun.”
Ridgeline now prepares for a semifinal matchup at home against Crimson Cliffs next Friday.
RIVERHAWKS 50, GRIZZLIES 7
Friday at Millville
Logan 0 0 0 7 — 7
Ridgeline 15 14 7 14 — 50
R — Noah White 1 run (Aaron Young kick), 10:35
R — White 1 (Jackson Olsen run), 4:03
R — Olsen 58 pass from Kaden Cox (Young kick), 6:38
R — Olsen 55 pass from Cox (Young kick), 5:09
R — Strat Simmons 26 pass from Cox (Young kick), 2:42
R — Peyton Knowles 34 pass from Cox (Young kick), 11:16
R — Braylon Majors 27 pass from Cox (Young kick), 4:01
L — Jaelin Hoth 20 pass from Kody Kirk (Noe Moreno kick), 0:24