Panther win puts Ridgeview on collision course with Clay

Ridgeview 52, Middleburg 21

By Ray DiMonda
Posted 10/12/17

MIDDLEBURG – Ridgeview High Head Football Coach Cameron Porch knows what this season means.

“The month of October is huge for us,” said Porch, after his Panthers dismantled 6A-Middleburg …

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Panther win puts Ridgeview on collision course with Clay

Ridgeview 52, Middleburg 21

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – Ridgeview High Head Football Coach Cameron Porch knows what this season means.

“The month of October is huge for us,” said Porch, after his Panthers dismantled 6A-Middleburg 52-21 Friday at Middleburg to push to a 6-1 overall record. “The next three games are all district games and all really good football teams.”

In fact, the very next game is one of the biggest in Clay County in a showdown Friday as the Clay High Blue Devils, 4-2, visit Panther Stadium for a district 5-5A contest for the top choice in a playoff roundup that will be factored in after both Clay and Ridgeview play defending champion Baker County High in the upcoming two weeks; October 20 for Clay, October 27 for Ridgeview. Both Clay and Ridgeview have losses for the season to 7A-Fleming Island High with Clay’s second loss to 7A-Bartram Trail.

Middleburg, winless thus far and with a bench full of injuried players, is still in search of that first win of the 2017 season.

“I have never had this many curve balls thrown at me in one season,” said Middleburg coach Karl Smeltzer. “We are on our 12th offensive line personnel change.”

From the opening whistle, Ridgeview came out like they were shot out of a cannon and rocked the Mustangs back on their heels in the first quarter, putting up 24 unanswered points. Throughout the game, the Panther scoring came from a mix of offensive, defensive, and special teams scoring.

In the first quarter, it was all Panthers as they used only 1:38 to run four plays and go up 7-0 capped off with a short 10-yard touchdown pass to Kiaran Turner. After the ensuing kickoff, on the first offensive Middelburg play, Austin Childers would jump the route and pick off Garrett Blanchett’s pass, returning it 60 yards for a pick-6 putting the Panthers up 14-0 after the good point after. The following Bronco drive was stymied by a third down Courtney Rockett sack that snuffed the Bronco drive.

Ridgeview quarterback Tyler Huff (227 yards passing, three touchdowns, no interceptions on the night) continued his trademark precision throws and smart play to take advantage of any Bronco flaws he saw. From his own 46 yard line, Huff found Jaiden Turner open in full stride, and hit him with a perfect strike which allowed Turner to go 54 yards for the Panther third touchdown of the evening. The game would stay at 24-0 through the second quarter as Middleburg adjusted and Ridgeview tried a few changes.

“They’re not a bad football team either. They kind of settled down and got out of rhythm, we hurt ourselves on early down situations but we got back into it and we’re okay,” said Porch. “We didn’t adjust anything for the third quarter, we just got back to what was flowing and just stuck with it instead of trying to bounce around and experiment. We just put our foot on the gas in the second half.”

In the third period, Middleburg wideout Malik Ally finally broke the choke hold of the Panthers and got Middleburg on the board with a corner of the end zone reception. The Broncos would successfully pull off a swinging gate 2-point attempt to get the score to 31-8. Ally would end the night with 157 receiving yards and all three Bronco touchdowns.

Middleburg continues with a home district contest against Ponte Vedra Nease (3-3, 1-0) on Friday.

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