Ridgefield Park prevails over Teaneck by Jim McConville special to The Record
TEANECK – Coming into Saturday night’s game with Teaneck, Ridgefield Park was concerned about the battle of the trenches. The Scarlets had not fared well last week in their opener against Ramsey and the Highwaymen presented something of a physical disadvantage.
Ridgefield Park got just enough out of its five new starters to eke out an 8-6 victory, its first after six straight losses dating back to last year.
“We just keep working at it,” Scarlets coach Pete Kraljic said. “We’re not very big up front, and we were worried coming in how we would be able to handle Teaneck’s size, but our guys did OK,”
Both teams were a bit ragged all night, with neither able to establish any real offensive consistency. The Highwaymen had only six first downs and only one drive with more than one first down.
The lone Teaneck score came two plays after a Justin Kea interception at the RP 20-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Russell Adams went over the top to Saeed Foster for a 24-yard touchdown pass in the first minute of the second quarter.
Ridgefield Park was able to answer back thanks to a 50-yard run by Erik Tripp on a counter that moved them to the Teaneck 20. They needed a fourth down conversion to sustain the possession before Jonas Espinal sliced in from four yards out. Chanz Martinez ran in the two-point conversion that would be the eventual game-winning points.
The Scarlets had chances to add to the lead, but faltered. They benefited from a bad snap on a fake punt that gave them the ball at the Teaneck 14 but couldn’t score as a sack/fumble turned the ball back to the Highwaymen. They also had a touchdown in the final two minutes wiped out by a holding penalty.
“What we need to work on is finishing drives,” Kraljic said. “We have to turn these 50 and 60-yard marches into 80-yarders and touchdowns. We made too many mistakes on offense, but they are all correctable and it is a lot easier to fix off a win.”
Field position: Ridgefield Park certainly won this battle, thanks to punter Logan Martinez. The sophomore had three solid directional punts that buried Teaneck at the Highwaymen 7, 5 and 9-yard lines. He averaged 37.8 yards on four punts and none were returned.
Stat line: Aaron Clark hade 18 carries for 117 yards for Teaneck, but the rest of the running game netted only 6 yards on 13 carries. Tripp’s one 50-yard run made him the leading rusher for RP.
Kraljic on the win: “I can’t even remember the last time Ridgefield Park lost six games in a row. It wasn’t pretty, but we’re not giving it back.”
Turning point: Facing fourth-and-1 with less than eight minutes to go, the Scarlets went for it at the Teaneck 49. Espinal took the Wildcat snap and picked up two tough yards off left guard for the first down. RP was able to hold the ball until 47 seconds were left in the game leaving Teaneck almost no chance for a comeback.