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Woodridge football hands Ravenna worst loss in a decade

By Jonah Rosenblum | Reporter Published: September 25, 2016 12:00 AM
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Ravens coach Jim Lunardi referred to it beforehand on social media as a champions game -- a battle between 2014 PTC Metro co-champion Ravenna and 2015 PTC Metro champion Woodridge.

On Sept. 16, the Bulldogs staked an early claim to the 2016 title, crushing the Ravens, 44-8.

Woodridge (4-0, 1-0 PTC Metro) had everything working.

Quarterback Mason Lydic had one of his best games of the season, finding Jake Margroff and Sharif Howard with ease. King Alfred Sanders carried a pile of Ravenna would-be tacklers on carry after carry. The Bulldogs' defense was suffocating, forcing Ravens quarterback Bowen Brown to make quick decisions and hurry numerous throws.

Lydic completed 16-of-23 for 210 yards and three scores.

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"I feel like I was trying to force things during CVCA [in Week 1], so I just focused on not forcing things and just let the game come to me," Lydic said.

Two of those touchdown passes went to Howard, and the duo could have had a third, had Howard not dropped a ball sprinting down the sideline. It didn't hurt that the Ravens had to play a conservative defense, with a linebacker pressed close to the line, to keep Sanders under control.

Sanders was held to a reasonable 126 yards, but at the expense of Lydic, Margroff and Howard having a field day. Margroff finished with five catches for 36 yards and a score. Howard had eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

"When teams really sell out to stop the run, it leaves passing lanes open for us and that's what we took tonight," Woodridge coach Jeff Decker said.

As for the Ravens (1-3, 0-1), they struggled to get the Bulldogs off the field, despite myriad chances. They missed tackles and botched numerous third-down opportunities. Woodridge converted 8-of-10 third downs in the first half, allowing the Bulldogs to march out to a 37-0 halftime lead.

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That was the story on Woodridge's game-opening drive, as Sanders rolled around the left end to convert a third-and-two and Lydic, as four Ravenna defenders encircled him on third-and-10, managed to find Sanders for a 10-yard screen pass.

"Mason has just got that sense of competitive nature," Decker said. "There are certain things you just can't coach. We don't coach a play like that. We don't put him in a situation in the middle of a scrum and, 'Alright, rugby it over to your buddy over there.' He just has that. That's nice to know that when a play breaks down, we've still got a chance to be successful."

Having dug himself out of a few holes, Lydic put the Bulldogs in the red zone with a pass down the right sideline that Howard made a gorgeous diving grab on.

"It sure looked like it [was overthrown] when it was up in the air, and he made that last little dive out," Decker said. "It was amazing. It was truly amazing."

Having overthrown Howard, he was more precise on his nine-yard touchdown pass, pinning the ball right into Margroff's chest as he slanted toward the middle of the field.

Woodridge quickly got the ball back, as Robert Singletary, not fooled by a fake handoff, sprinted directly at Brown for a 10-yard sack and the Bulldogs recorded another sack on third-and-long.

Given great field position, at the Ravens 44, the Bulldogs rolled right downfield, with Sanders bringing several would-be tacklers along for the ride on a 20-yard carry. Singletary capped the drive with a perfectly-blocked dash around the left end from two yards out.

That's when Ravenna mistakes coupled with Woodridge's big plays.

A pair of overthrown short passes combined with a sloppy false start, in which the Ravenna receivers took off despite the lack of a snap, forced the Ravens to punt to start the second quarter. The Bulldogs took advantage with a nine-play, 58-yard drive, with Lydic rolling right to find Margroff on a third-and-eight play. Singletary finished the drive, fighting through a tackle at the two for a 16-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.

Down 21-0, the Ravens returner stumbled coming out of the end zone, his knee grazing the turf.

With the ball marked at the two, the Bulldogs sent a blitz on Brown, forcing the Ravenna quarterback to awkwardly shovel a pass a few yards forward. Brown was whistled for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving Woodridge a safety.

Bad turned to worse for the Ravens when Howard took a slant pass two plays later and bounced off a would-be tackler for a 53-yard touchdown.

"Just give them the ball, they'll do the rest," Lydic said. "They're athletes, man. They're athletes."

Brown found himself under pressure all night, completing 9-of-22 for 98 yards. Likely as a result, Brown began releasing the ball very quickly and fired a couple of screen passes over the heads of his receivers.

For a Ravenna team that has been in every game it has played this season, Friday's result was a bit of a stunner. The 36-point margin marked the Ravens' worst under Lunardi and their worst since at least 2001.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC


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