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Ridgefield runs past Washougal, 38-28

Spudders force four turnovers, withstand second-half rally

By PAUL WILLIAMS, For The Columbian
Published: September 30, 2023, 12:22am

WASHOUGAL — The wild and wooly 2A Greater St. Helens League features experienced and talented quarterbacks. However it was two running backs who stole the show for Ridgefield against Washougal.

The Spudders rushed for 301 yards and withstood a furious late Washougal rally to defeat the Panthers 38-28 at Fishback Stadium.

“That’s always our emphasis (the running game)…our coach puts a big emphasis on running the ball.” senior offensive lineman Mason Curran said. “We struggled a bit with it in the second half but we did well with it in the first half.”

Ridgefield (3-2 overall, 2-1 2A GSHL) relied on its two-headed monster at running back — both senior Rocco Wright and junior Cly Stephens rushed for over 100 yards on the evening. Wright finished with 139 yards on the ground and Stephens added 135.

“We’ve been switching back and forth since our freshman year,” Wright said. “We push each other a lot.”

“We try to be the hammer, not the nail,” Stephens said.

After the Panthers (3-2, 1-2) scored on their opening possession, Ridgefield rattled off 31 unanswered points. In addition to the ground game, senior quarterback Brayden Malella completed 10 of 12 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, all three to junior wide receiver Noah Stromberg.

“We just have that chemistry … we see eye-to-eye, he trusts me and I trust him,” Malella said.

“I just try to get to the open space and I trust him to put it there,” Stromberg said.

After Wright scored on a 41-yard touchdown run to make it 31-7 in the third quarter the Panthers came roaring back. Holden Bea found Sam Evers on a 26-yard touchdown pass and after forcing a three-and-out from Ridgefield, Bea scored on a four-yard run to pull to within 10 at 31-21.

All told, Bea threw for 366 yards and ran for 90, but was intercepted three times and fumbled once.

“We understand he’s going to make big plays, we just can’t let those big plays destroy us,” Malella said of Bea.

Stramberg hauled in five passes for 155 yards for the Spudders, including a 73-yard touchdown pass to seal the victory in the fourth quarter. Ridgefield hosts Mark Morris next Friday.

Sam Evers caught nine passes for 117 yards for Washougal, who faces unbeaten Hudson’s Bay next week.

RIDGEFIELD 38, WASHOUGAL 28

Ridgefield 7 17 7 7—38

Washougal 7 0 7 14—28

First quarter

W — Harry DeShazer 14 pass from Holden Bea (Koby Johnson kick)

R — Noah Stromberg 29 pass from Brayden Malella (Brandon Rogers kick)

Second quarter

R — Rogers 25 field goal

R — Cly Stephens 17 run (Rogers kick)

R — Stromberg 18 pass from Malella (Rogers kick)

Third quarter

R — Rocco Wright 41 run (Rogers kick)

W — Sam Evers 26 pass from Bea (Koby Johnson kick)

Fourth quarter

W — Bea 4 run (Koby Johnson kick)

R — Stramberg 73 pass from Malella (Rogers kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – Ridgefield: Rocco Wright 21-139, Cly Stephens 16-135, Brayden Malella 6-27. Washougal: Holden Bea 10-91, Will Cooper 6-(-3).

PASSING – Ridgefield: Brayden Malella 10-12-0-201. Washougal: Holden Bea 26-42-3-366

RECEIVING – Ridgefield: Noah Stromberg 5-155, Landon DeBeaumont 3-30, Rocco Wright 1-10, Cash Hill 1-6. Washougal: Sam Evers 9-117, Prescott Lenhart 4-100, Harry DeShazer 5-69, Will Cooper 4-42,Deondrae Goddell 3-18, Mercy Johnston 1-16, Brayden Paella 1-4.

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