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Ridgefield 31, Columbia High 21

Pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns give Spudders edge over Bruins

Ridgefield scored the final 14 points of last Friday's non-league football game to hand Columbia High a 31-21 season-ending setback in CHS Stadium.

It was the third loss in a row for the Bruins, who went from 2A playoff contender to also-ran with a 28-21 Trico Division defeat by the Spudders on Oct. 25.

Columbia ended the season with its first losing record since 1994, at 3-6.

Its season finale was marred by five turnovers (three lost fumbles, two interceptions) and nine penalties that cost the Bruins 90 yards in mark-offs. Six of those infractions were for offensive holding.

"We couldn't run the football because every other play we were being called for holding," Bruins Coach Larry McCutcheon. "We were constantly in long-yardage situations."

Columbia ran the ball just 19 times for 169 yards and an 8.9 yards per carry average; decent production considering how seldom CHS backs touched the ball.

Seventy of those yards, however, came on a second-quarter touchdown run by senior slotback Matthew Carlock, off a lateral from junior wideout Marcus Giovannoni.

That TD, with 9:29 to go in the first half, evened the score at 7-7.

Later in the second quarter the Bruins were on the end zone threshold again, thanks to Giovannoni's recovery of a Jonny Peru fumble at Ridgefield's 28-yard line, following a 38-yard punt by CHS sophomore Jon Bryan.

On third-and-10 from the 28, CHS got a break when Ridgefield interfered with Giovannoni's attempt to catch a Bryan pass.

That moved the ball to the 14. Three plays later the Bruins faced a fourth-and-six from the 9.

On fourth down, CHS called a pass play that put Carlock one-on-one against Ridgefield's Pat Byrnes.

Bryan got the ball away, but instead of zipping it, he lobbed it. Byrnes read the play and stepped in front of Carlock to pick off the pass. He returned it 37 yards to his own 41 to preserve a 7-7 tie at halftime.

In the second half, the lead went back and forth five times.

Ridgefield took a 10-7 lead midway through the third quarter on a 28-yard field goal by senior Jonathan Herschfield.

It lasted less than three minutes as CHS drove 43 yards in five plays to take a 14-10 lead on Carlock's second touchdown run of the night.

Carlock put the Bruins in excellent field position by running the kickoff back 50 yards.

The Spudders responded with a nine-play, 88-yard march that culminated in a 7-yard scoring run by Peru with 11:33 remaining in the game.

Junior Zane Howard, who returned four kicks for 87 yards, packed the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to his own 43 to give the Bruins a good starting point.

Columbia didn't waste it either. The Bruins took their final lead of the game at 8:53 on a 25-yard pass from Bryan to junior James Cowan, who had lined up as a tight end.

But the Spudders needed just three plays and a minute, 10 seconds to regain the lead for good.

On third-and-15 from his own 22, Ridgefield quarterback Tyler Chenowith threw long to Byrnes, who took it the rest of the way for a 72-yard score. Peru ran in the two-point conversion to put the Spudders on top, 24-21.

"What cost us the game was our inability to play pass defense against no. 27 (Byrnes)," McCutcheon said. "But other than those two scoring passes, I thought we played good defense."

Ridgefield totaled 332 yards of offense overall, with 208 of those coming on seven receptions by Byrnes.

Peru, who lit up CHS for four TDs and 221 yards rushing in the Oct. 25 meeting, managed 121 yards last Friday in 32 attempts.

His final carry resulted in a 5-yard scoring run with 1:39 to play in the game.

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