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Fivay gains revenge by edging River Ridge

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:54 AM

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NEW PORT RICHEY -

The chains were stretched and the fans in both grandstands lurched to see where the first-down marker would fall and decide another thriller between River Ridge and Fivay Friday night.

The two schools may not be district rivals, and have only played each other twice, but those two meetings have had no shortage of drama and agony.

When the chain plopped down beyond the football, Fivay's players had their revenge, barely escaping with a 35-28 victory at the Jim Valentine Athletic Complex to get even for last season's nail-biting loss that came on a 53-yard field goal.

In the process, they overcame many of the same mistakes they made last year, and made all the key plays in the final seconds this time around.

"I didn't even know what to do ... I saw a big blur with (a River Ridge back) right in front of me. I just didn't want to overpursue," said junior linebacker Zach Russell said, who joined linebacker Cristian Brevario and the Falcons defensive line to send River Ridge's offense sideways on the game's final play.

"(Last season's loss) was bugging me all year, and I couldn't live it down until I got revenge."

The Falcons had an eventful week, turning to last year's starting quarterback Tyler Degen after an injury to preseason starter Eric Vitale. The move paid off as Degen finished 12-for-17 for 209 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Andrew Meyer, Kevin Faulkner and Willis Reeves.

Davion Sutton also delivered at running back, gaining 108 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns, including the decisive score with 3:10 remaining after a diving catch by Faulkner at the River Ridge 1-yard line.

River Ridge struggled offensively early on but forced two Fivay turnovers, converting both into touchdowns. George Cordova intercepted Degen and scampered 58 yards for a score on the opening drive, his first of three touchdowns in the half.

Cordova's other scores came on receptions of 48 and 29 yards from quarterback Josh Maisel, the latter of which came on essentially a Hail Mary, fourth-and-24 from the Fivay 29 with less than 20 seconds left in the half.

River Ridge never led in the second half, but had two great chances to do so. The best came after a fourth quarter fumble recovery by Mike Jones in Fivay territory, but the Knights went on to fumble as well inside the Falcons' 5, squandering the chance.

Fivay coach Chris Taylor was lamenting the mistakes his team made offensively, but was impressed with their ability to bounce back.

"Our kids played hard. I think being in the playoffs last year helped them, knowing what they needed to do," Taylor said.

"But I was proud of the way we played, just like I was proud of the way River Ridge played. It was a great high school football game."

RR - Cordova 58 Interception return (Garland kick)

F - Meyer 35 pass from Degen (Wasson kick)

RR - Cordova 48 pass from Maisel (Garland kick)

F - Faulkner 14 pass from Degen (Wasson kick)

F - Sutton 16 run (Wasson kick)

RR - Cordova 26 pass from Maisel (Garland kick)

F - Reeves 40 pass from Degen (Wasson kick)

RR - Maisel 7 run (Garland kick)

F - Sutton 1 run (Wasson kick)

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