River Ridge did just enough damage in the first half on Friday.
The Hawks (6-0, 4-0 2A SPSL) endured a second-half surge by Washington (3-3, 2-2) to stave off the Patriots, 48-34, at Franklin Pierce Schools Stadium.
“I’m glad we beat them because I believe they’re going to beat other teams in front of us,” said River Ridge coach Steve Schultz. “So it’s always good to get a team that you know is going to beat other teams.”
The Hawks scored five consecutive touchdowns in the first half before the Patriots finally stopped Kobe Key on a quarterback scramble in the red zone as time expired.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
On its first two drives, River Ridge converted third-and-longs for touchdowns. Key connected with Jonta’h Wesley, who made a diving 19-yard catch to give the Hawks an early 7-0 lead.
Key found Kory Klingberg on the following drive from 24 yards out to make it 14-0.
For the other side, Tariq Ellis did everything he could to keep the Patriots relevant throughout the contest. He sped 77 yards down the right sideline in the first quarter to cut River Ridge’s lead to 14-6.
Ellis rushed for 290 yards on 24 carries — his third consecutive 200-plus yard game — and scored four of Washington’s five TDs.
“These are my brothers and family, it’s a big tough game,” Ellis said. “I have to do my job, and they have to do their job in order to come out with the (win), but we’ll get them next time.”
The Hawks scored three more uncontested touchdowns to close the half. Kobe Reed punched it in from two yards out, and Key connected with Wesley again in the end zone for 30 yards.
The Hawks went up 36-6 on a five-play, 52-yard drive to enter the locker room up 36-6. Key handed the ball to Tre’Vonne Dorfner on five straight plays. Dorfner capped the drive with a 4-yard jaunt into the end zone untouched.
Dorfner added one more touchdown for the Hawks on an 86-yard run in the third quarter.
He carried the majority load for the Hawks with running back Gustavo Diaz out with a dislocated elbow. Dorfner rushed for 24 yards on 232 carries with two touchdowns.
The Patriots came back with three touchdowns in the second half.
Apart from Ellis’ four touchdown runs, the Patriots had trouble putting drives together. They committed 12 penalties, and went three-and-out three times and turned the ball over on downs another three times.
Ellis broke free for a 54-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, and Washington recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Patriots drove to the 16-yard line, but turned it over on downs.
Ellis picked up a 2-yard touchdown at the end of the third. He blew by the Hawks for another 79-yard touchdown in the fourth to cut his team’s deficit to 42-28.
The Patriots came within one score with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left to play on a 27-yard pass from Martin Mendiola to JoJo Scott, but that was as close as they got.
River Ridge scored again on a 13-yard pass from Key to Brayden Anderson with 1:34 to play to make it 48-34.
Alex Coleman picked off Mendiola on the following drive to clinch the victory.
Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473