Orange Park, FL

Clay High Blue Devils defeat Ridgeview, 33-22

Tony Salazar

The Clay High Blue Devils rebound from a week one loss by beating the Ridgeview Panthers at Ridgeview’s home opener Friday night, 33-22.
Photo taken by Anthony Salazar

Clay High’s Dwonya Williams recovered a fumble on Ridgeview’s first offensive drive. From there, Clay marched down the field where Clay High quarterback Merrick Rapoza rolled out to his right to hit wide receiver Payton Dykas in the corner of the endzone for the first score of the game.

Ridgeview’s offense responded with points of their own. With the ball at their 35-yard-line, running back Sheppard Bridges made an explosive run that got Ridgeview into the red zone. Ridgeview fed the ball to Bridges until he finally reached the endzone on a three-yard run. Bridges' touchdown was the first score Ridgeview has had this season. The first quarter ended tied 7-7.

Ridgeview’s defense began to settle in for the second quarter. Middleburg outside linebacker Rayhn Hutchinson met Clay running back Jaden Paulk in the hole and stripped the ball from him. Ridgeview’s offense tried to capitalize on the turnover, attempting a 50-yard field goal on fourth down. However, the kick was blocked.

Later in the second quarter, Ridgeview’s defense forced another turnover. Rapoza’s arm was hit by a Ridgeview defender which caused the ball to fall into the arms of Ridgeview defensive tackle Khalil Combs. Ridgeview’s offense would eventually capitalize on the turnovers their defense was forcing. Ridgeview quarterback Richard Lewis connected with wide receiver Chris Baptiste on a wide receiver screen for a 13-yard touchdown.

After it looked like Ridgeview’s defense was about to take over the game. Rapoza hit Clay High Antonio Thomas who was wide open downfield for a 50-yard gain. With the ball in the red zone, Rapoza scrambled to his right where he found Dykas for a second touchdown. Clay High’s kicker missed the extra point.

As the first half was coming to a close, Clay High outside linebacker Michael Volkov recovered a fumble on a bad snap deep into Ridgeview territory. Clay High was able to capitalize on the turnover with a quarterback keeper for Rapoza. The game was 20-14 at halftime.

The only points scored in the third quarter were from a botched snap by Ridgeview that was recovered by Clay in the endzone. Clay missed another extra point after the score.

Ridgeview made things interesting in the fourth quarter with another fumble recovery by Hutchinson who managed to get the ball into the red zone. Ridgeview was able to capitalize with another rushing touchdown by Bridges. Ridgeview then successfully faked the extra point with an end-around play to the left side of the endzone by Baptiste.

With the lead still in the hands of Clay High, the Blue Devils were able to make consistent chunk plays that got them back into the red zone. However, Rapoza fumbled inside the red zone and was recovered by Ridgeview defensive end Jairus Moore. Ridgeview was not able to move the ball and had to punt back to Clay where Dykas returned the punt back roughly to the same spot Rapoza fumbled. Clay High running back Dominic Martin would go on to ice the game with a two-yard touchdown run with roughly 20 seconds left of the game.
Photo taken by Anthony Salazar

Ridgeview was not able to score any more points and Clay High emerged victorious. Clay High’s next game is at home against the Orange Park Raiders. Ridgeview’s next game is away against the Lake Weir Hurricanes.
Photo taken by Anthony Salazar

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I am a graduate of the University of North Florida with a major in communication with a focus in journalism and a minor in sports management.

Green Cove Springs, FL

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