MILLVILLE — Some bounces went the Riverhawks way on offense, while the defense was solid throughout to keep Ridgeline perfect on the season.
Visiting Woods Cross could never get on track offensively Friday night much to the delight of the Ridgeline defensive coaches. The Riverhawks didn’t allow a score until the fourth quarter when the game was in hand. Ridgeline improved to 3-0 on the season with a 24-7 victory.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I thought defensively we played pretty solid,” Riverhawk head coach Travis Cox said. “Offensively, we were just up and down. First down is killing us right now. They (Wildcats) are really good up front, so it was hard for us to get behind the chains. When we started well on first down, we did well.”
Ridgeline’s defense recorded seven sacks in the game and picked off a pass. The Riverhawks held the 5A Wildcats (0-4) to 159 yards of total offense. Woods Cross could never establish a run game, with the exception of a 35-yard touchdown dash. The Wildcats were held to 44 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
“Sometimes you have fortunate things happen,” Cox said. “We had a few happen in the first half. ... And our defense was bringing pressure, which was good.”
Offensively, Ridgeline finished with 345 total yards, but 236 of those came in the first half.
“I feel we got off to a great start, but unfortunately we slowed down in the second half,” said Riverhawks receiver Jovesa Damuni, who caught five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. “There are always things we can fix. We need to come out the same way we did the first half.”
Ridgeline quarterback Kaden Cox had an efficient night, completing 22 of 27 passes for 211 yards and two TDs. However, he was sacked six times.
“The quick game was good for us, but when we got into second and long and third and long, it’s a hard team because they are hard to block,” coach Cox said.
The Riverhawks also dodged a bullet after having a punt blocked late in the first quarter, giving the Wildcats the ball in scoring territory. A sack by Payton Knowles — his first of two on the night — helped stop momentum the visitors were trying to grab. Woods Cross ended up missing a 36-yard field goal to start the second quarter.
A little luck was on the hosts side on their second possession of the game. Running back Noah White had gained a first down on a nice run when the ball came loose. Not to fear as Damuni scooped up the free pigskin and was off to the races for a 38-yard gain.
“I ran a bubble route, so when the ball was stripped it came perfectly straight back to me,” Damuni said. “I just picked it up, broke a tackle and was able to go a long ways down the field.”
Five plays later Ridgeline was finishing off an eight-play, 93-yard scoring drive to put the first points on the scoreboard. On fourth-and-16 from the 20, the Riverhawks went for it. Kaden Cox hit Damuni in the end zone for the score.
“I was just one of the options,” Damuni said of the catch. “Strat Simmons was wide open as well. Kade was able to put a good ball on me. That is all credit on him.”
Three plays later Ridgeline’s Owen Munk came up with an interception. But then the Wildcats blocked the punt.
After Woods Cross missed the field goal, the Riverhawks were marching down the field with run after run. Eight runs were called out of nine plays, mostly by White. Then Cox faked a handoff and found Damuni over the middle in stride at the 30. Damuni was off to the races for a 42-yard score, giving the hosts a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Ridgeline took a 17-0 lead into the break when Simmons booted a 24-yard field goal late in the half.
Woods Cross had a 24-yard pass play early in the third quarter that doubled its offensive output to that point. However, neither team could get much going offensively in the third until the Riverhawks did late.
A heads-up play by Kaden Cox — who also punts from a shotgun formation — kept the final scoring drive alive for the Riverhawks as he hit Simmons for a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-2. Ridgeline went 70 yards in 13 plays as Jaden Harris capped it off with a 6-yard TD run up the middle with 10:43 to play.
Woods Cross broke up the shutout with 8:14 to play when Jonas Nerdin broke free for a 35-yard TD run. Nerdin had 83 yards on the ground for the Wildcats.
White led the Riverhawks in the rushing department with a game-best 97 yards on 17 carries.
“All credit goes to the offensive linemen,” Damuni said. “If they do good, we do good.”
Ridgeline opens Region 11 play next week, traveling to Bear River.
RIVERHAWKS 24, WILDCATS 7
Friday at Millville
Woods Cross 0 0 0 7 — 7
Ridgeline 7 10 0 7 — 24
R — Jovesa Damuni 20 pass from Kaden Cox (Strat Simmons kick), 5:10
R — Damuni 42 pass from Cox (Simmons kick), 8:49
R — FG 24 Simmons, 3:31
R — Jaden Harris 6 run (Simmons kick), 10:43
WC — Jonas Nerdin 35 run (Austin Bradley kick), 8:14