Mt. Ridge v. Westwood

Westwood runningback leads Warriors to first round playoff victory over Mountain Ridge, 34-14.

It's not like he hasn't had a good season. Ben Ochoa, the Westwood Warriors fullback/linebacker had rushed for almost 600 yards during the regular season while doing a solid job at linebacker on defense. However, his performance against Mountain Ridge in his team's first round playoff left many people with their mouths wide open, saying "Wow".

Ochoa gained 302 yards rushing and scored 3 TDs. He also had an interception and a sack on the defensive side of the ball. Rumor has it he drove the team bus back to Mesa after the game!

It looked to be an even match-up between the Warriors and the Mountain Lions. Each team had strong quarterbacks in Brandon Large of Westwood and Kevin Yost of Mountain Ridge. Each team had their share of ups and downs during the season. Westwood played the tougher schedule. Mountain Ridge had the home field advantage. Special teams favored the Lions with top rated kicker Jeff Locke.

Early in the game, Locke pinned the Warriors back on the one yard line with a terrific punt. After a two yard gain, Ochoa broke a 97 yard run for a score and Westwood led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Ridge rolled back on the strength of Yost's arm and the toughness of fullback Bret Hager. They scored on a double pass from inside the five yard line, Kenny Elgin to Matt Marolda and the game was tied up.

Westwood came right back. Large drove them 80 yards for another score. Key plays were a big reception by Warrior receiver Anthony Bryant on a diving catch to keep the drive alive and the touchdown run by wingback Terhion Oliver. The extra point was missed and Westwood led 13-7.

Yost led the Ridge back down the field, combining his running with some nice short passes to get the Lions in scoring position. That man, Ochoa, was once again Johnny on the spot, picking off Yost with 20 seconds to go in the half and the Warriors led by six at halftime.

After Mountain Ridge took off several minutes on their opening drive, Locke again pinned the Westwood on the one with another outstanding kick. For the second time, the Warriors drove 99 yards for the score. Ochoa picked up 83 of them, one a 67 yard run that got Westwood out of the hole, and then he finished the drive off with a 15 yard touchdown run.

The second half was pretty much all Westwood. Defensive linemen Ed Judie, Chris Smith, and Dustin Keser controlled the line of scrimmage and limited the Mountain Lions 1,000 yard rusher Giorgio Giurdanella to short gains. Defensive back Calvin Washington came up with some clutch plays including a big hit on a Mountain Ridge receiver to prevent a score. Oliver and Ochoa both ran for additional touchdowns to pad the lead to 34-7 until a late Lions score on a 65 yard hook and ladder to Giurdanella made the final score: Westwood 34 Mountain Ridge 14.

Obviously, give a game ball to Ochoa who had over half a season's rushing yardage in the game and played possessed on defense. But, he couldn't have done it without his linemen. Led by center Kyle Deering, guards Jesse Arrieta and Gart Wright, and tackles Kyle Sagale and Jose Ruiz, the Westwood line dominated up front. On the defensive side, the Warrior line also came up big, sacking Yost and making him run for his life all game.

Up next for Westwood is number 1 ranked Hamilton, who will be a huge test. But don't count the Warriors out. They're playing their best ball of the year right now when it counts most.

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