LONGVIEW — The Ridgefield defense contained Mark Morris' running game almost start to finish on Friday at Longview Memorial Stadium.
But the two big pass plays the Monarchs hit were the stuff of champions, as Mark Morris held off Ridgefield 21-14 in a clash between the top two teams in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League.
Mark Morris (6-1, 3-0) now has the inside track to a league title. Ridgefield (5-2, 2-1) is in good shape for a playoff berth but would need the Monarchs to lose both of their remaining games to become league champions.
Both of the game-breaking pass plays came moments after Ridgefield touchdowns. First there was a play-action pass on a third-and-short with the Spudders ahead 8-7 in the second quarter. Mark Morris' Seth Huhta was wide open behind the defense for an easy 62-yard touchdown.
After Ridgefield pulled within 15-14, Mark Morris delivered another huge pass play. On third-and-9, the Monarchs' Max Tilton fumbled the snap, but picked up the ball and lobbed a short pass to Austin Johnson. Johnson had a lane up the left sideline for the 44-yard score that made it 21-14 with 11 minutes left in the game.
"Our defense played so tough and shut them down on 98 percent of the plays," Ridgefield coach Dan Andersen said.
"They didn't drive it down our throats. We shut them down except for a couple of big plays."
Ridgefield's offense was opportunistic, scoring on drives of 22 yards and 31 yards. The first of the scoring drives came in the second quarter after a fumble gave the Spudders the ball at the Monarch 22. Clayton Farr converted from one yard out on fourth down.
The second Ridgefield touchdown was the result of a high punt snap that gave the Spudders the ball at the Monarch 31. Eight plays and one fourth-down conversion later, Matt Cushwa scored from six yards out. The two-point conversion failed, but Ridgefield was within 15-14 with more than 16 minutes remaining in the game.
Ridgefield limited Johnson to 76 yards rushing. But he scored on a 37-yard sweep to begin the game, and later outran the Spudders on that decisive screen pass.
MARK MORRIS 21, RIDGEFIELD 14
Ridgefield 0 8 6 0--14
Mark Morris 7 8 0 6--21
MM -- Austin Johnson 37 run (Riley Johnston kick)
Rid -- Clayton Farr 1 run (Matt Cushwa run)
MM -- Seth Huhta 62 pass from Hayden Tilton (Austin Johnson run)
Rid -- Cushwa 6 run (run failed)
MM -- A. Johnson 44 pass from Max Tilton (run failed)
RUSHING -- Ridgefield -- Clayton Farr 14-52, Michael Knox 12-53, Matt Cushwa 6-19, Joe Siegel 2-12, Ian Williams 2-7, Gunnar Long 3-8, Sam Gillenwater 1-3, Curren Williams 1-0, John White 1-(minus 2). Mark Morris -- Austin Johnson 12-76, Austin Smith 11-27, Hayden Tapani 2-11, Keigan Baker 2-(minus 1), Hayden Tilton 3-(minus 8), Riley Johnston 1-(minus 17).
PASSING -- Ridgefield -- Long 4-10-2-46, Farr 0-1-0-0. Mark Morris -- H. Tilton 5-10-1-102, M. Tilton 1-1-0-44, H. Tapani 1-1-0-21.
RECEIVING -- Ridgefield -- White 3-41, Farr 1-5. Mark Morris -- Johnson 2-56, Nate Teeters 2-27, AJ Golden 1-9, Huhta 1-62, Baker 1-13.