Balanced attack sparks Riders past Generals

WEST LAFAYETTE Martins Ferry played far from the perfect game Friday against Ridgewood.

The Riders lost a fumble and were flagged for more than 80 yards in penalties. The Generals didn’t fair better. They were guilty of five turnovers.

The deciding factor was that Ferry was able to capitalize on Ridgewood’s turnovers while limiting the fallout from its own.

Led by a balanced offensive attack, the Purple Riders improved to 3-0 with a 38-23 victory against Ridgewood on Friday.

“We are a lot better than we played, but I think we were resilient and didn’t allow the mistakes we made to hurt us,” Martins Ferry coach Dave Bruney said.

A solid all-around effort from the Purple defense went a long way in that regard.

Ridgewood’s double-wing attack attempted to work the perimeter with jet sweeps in hopes of stretching the defense and opening up the inside trap game.

That strategy never came to fruition.

Led by seniors Sean McGee at linebacker and Zack Coole at end, Ferry was able to stretch out the Generals’ sweeps, limiting yardage. In turn, Ridgewood was never able to establish a foothold between the tackles.

“We had to have that,” Bruney said of the success in shutting down the perimeter ground attack. “They do such a good job that it opens up their fullback and also the play action pass. It was big for us to be able to shut it down.”

Ridgewood couldn’t establish the run and was forced to make the pass its primary option. The result saw the home team complete only four passes, one more than it had intercepted.

“We made an awful lot of mistakes, but Ferry had a lot to do with it,” Ridgewood coach John Slusser said. “Bottom line they were the better team.”

Ferry’s first touchdown came as a result of a Ridgewood fumble. Taking over at the Generals’ 25-yard line, the Riders needed four plays with Marcus Sutton plunging in from the 2.

After trading turnovers and stalled drives, Ferry struck again in the second when Brian Styles scampered to the outside and found the end zone from 13 yards out.

Strama intercepted a Ridgewood pass on the following drive and Ferry was at it again with Sutton muscling his way in from the 10.

Cody Schau set himself up nicely in the fourth quarter. First, the senior recorded Ferry’s third interception of the game.

Seven plays later, Schau was on the receiving end of a 3-yard lob pass from Strama for six.

Eric Flowers’ 1-yard sneak capped the Riders’ offensive showing.

Strama went down in the fourth with an apparent ankle injury. The official prognosis was not known. Strama’s teammates had to assist the senior off the field and to the lockerroom after the game as he was initially unable to put any weight on it.l

Before going down, Strama had a fine all-around effort with 163 passing yards and 49 rushing. Styles led the ground attack for Ferry with 88 yards on 11 carries.

Next up for the Purple is a trip to Cadiz and a matchup with fellow Buckeye 8 unbeaten Harrison Central. The Huskies are coming off a rout of Caldwell.

Bruney noted how key it was to come into West Lafayette and secure a victory, something only two teams had done in the previous 35 Generals’ home contests.

He also lamented that this year marks the end of the two teams’ contract to play. Bruney commended Ridgewood on its program and class-act players.

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