Mountain Ridge Defeats #1 Paradise Valley To Move On To 2nd Round
Forget about the #1 vs #16 story line going into the match up between Paradise Valley and Mt. Ridge. This was no David and Goliath story, rather it was two very talented teams filled with athletic players and D1 recruits who took very different roads to get to the playoffs. Paradise Valley cruised most of the season for a 10-0 record while Mountain Ridge struggled early and fought injuries to key players fighting to win five in a row to get into playoffs. But by first round of playoffs they were equals.
The first key play of the 1st quarter took place when Paradise Valley was forced to punt. A short, low kick was fielded by Nick Bell who returned it twenty-three yards inside the PV thirty-five yard line. Mountain Ridge seized the opportunity and quickly pounded the ball with Bell's running set up by strong line play. This lead to a one-yard TD dive for QB Austin Martin. The PAT was good making the score 7-0 for the visiting Mountain Lions. On the ensuing kickoff, Paradise Valley's Aazaad Muhammad fumbles the ball giving it to Mountain Ridge on the fourteen yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Martin keeps the ball on option left and sprints in for a TD. PAT good. Mountain Ridge 14 Paradise Valley 0.
Paradise Valley did not get the #1 ranking by folding the tent and quickly QB Ryan Barela hits WR Andrew Leahy in stride for a fifty-five yard gain. Putting the ball inside the Mountain Ridge twenty. Two plays later, Demarcus Jordan scores from eight yards out. The PAT was good. Mountain Ridge 14 Paradise Valley 0. We got us a ball game!! After a short pooch kick, Mountain Ridge gets decent field position and behind a nice waggle pass in the flat to FB Matt Pickering and an eighteen yard run by Bell, the Mountain Lions are again knocking on the door. Eventually the Paradise Valley D slows Mountain Ridge holding them to a Jeff Locke field goal that sneaks over the upright making the score at the end of the first quarter
Mountain Ridge 17 Paradise Valley 7.
On their first possession of the second quarter, Paradise Valley is forced to punt, but does a nice job pinning the Mountain Lions deep. On 2nd and 9 from his own six, QB Austin Martin scrambles out of a loss and gains thirty-three yards. This was a warm up for the next play. On option right Martin keeps the ball and takes off sixty-three yards for his third TD of the half! Locke's PAT was no good. (the football Gods were trying to even things out from the previous field goal) Mountain Ridge 23 Paradise Valley 7
Both teams move the ball on their next possession but field goal attempts by both are thwarted. Keeping the score at 23-7 in Mountain Ridges' favor at the end of the first half.
Paradise Valley opens the second half with a strong drive. The bulk of the plays were quick pitch, which was working vs the Mountain Lion D. On a crucial 3rd and 9 Trojan QB Ryan Barela is sacked by LB Daniel Villasenor. The Trojans settle for a field goal making the score, Mountain Ridge 23 Paradise Valley 10. On the next possession, Paradise Valley seemingly stops Mountain Ridge but on 3rd and 14 Nick Bell gets loose on a nice middle screen and runs into Trojan territory. Again it seems Paradise Valley will hold but are called for an illegal substitution on 4th and 1. Two plays later Bell takes it in from two yards out and Martin adds a two point conversion pass. Making the score Mountain Ridge 31 Paradise Valley 10 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, the Trojans Andrew Leahy picks of a Martin pass. The Trojans capitalize on this and march down the field and eventually score on an eight yard run by Demarcus Jordan. PAT good 31 to 17 Mountain Ridge in the lead.
The Trojans again get good field position after Mountain Lion QB Austin Martin fumbles the ball. On 1st and 10, Barela pulls off a nice wrap around draw to Aazaad Muhammad who darts into Mountain Ridge territory. Muhammad, still wanting to play football in December, makes two tough runs, the last being a two yard TD score. PAT good and with 5:28 left in the fourth we have a 31 to 24 ball game.
Mountain Ridge receives the kick and proceeds to pound the right side of the Trojan line with a steady dose of Nick Bell. Bell, bangs and bangs and eventually is rewarded for his efforts when a seam opens up that he takes into the end zone from twenty-five yards out capping the scoring for the night. Final score Mountain Ridge 38 Paradise Valley 24.
Bottom Line: These are two great teams. Mountain Ridge is a very talented #16 seed. When needed, throughout the night, Mountain Ridge controlled the line of scrimmage. What makes Mountain Ridge scary is that Tim Ham and Nick Covey are still not 100%. As a fan of high school football, it was tough to see Matt Clapp on the sideline and walking out to mid-field on crutches. He may not have made the difference tonight but it would have been a pleasure to watch him play one last time. We at 24-7 wish him the best of luck next year.
Game Balls: In the first half, Austin Martin was the lighting that gave Mountain Ridge the lead. In the second half, Nick Bell was the thunder that held the lead. The pair combined for well over 300 rushing yards. Hats off to Andrew Leahy and Aazaad Muhammad if this was a prize fight they would have taken it past the fifteenth round for a chance to play on.