LAKEWOOD – The North Ridgeville Rangers used a little trickery to pull out their fifth win in five years over the Lakewood Rangers.
Trailing 14-13 with 1:20 left in the game and facing a fourth-and-7 at the Lakewood 27-yard line, North Ridgeville used the old hook-and-lateral play to pull out a 21-14 win Friday night in a non-conference game at Lakewood Stadium.
Lakewood had called a timeout to set up its defensive strategy for the pivotal play, but wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
As North Ridgeville gathered on the sideline, quarterback P.J. Bunevich, running back David Bowden and wideout Christian Watkins planned the play in the huddle.
Coming out of the timeout, Bunevich took the snap from center and passed to Watkins for 2 yards. He pitched it to Bowden at the 25-yard line, and Bowden outran the defenders into the end zone.
“It was fourth-and-7 and we needed to convert,” Bunevich said. “We practiced the play all week and it just popped in my head that we needed to run that play.
“Christian and Bowden executed it. I got the ball to Christian and he got it to Bowden. They both made a good play and got into the end zone.”
David Riley added the 2-point conversion with a run up the middle.
The hook-and-lateral capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was aided by a 15-yard face-mask penalty that put the ball on the Lakewood 30.
“Credit where credit is due,” North Ridgeville coach Jeff Risien said. “It came down to fourth down and P.J. and Christian have been running that play since they were freshmen.
“P.J. came over and called the play and I said this is what we believe in. We are a team. I don’t take everything they say and run, but they came to me and said, ‘What about this play, Coach?’ And I went with it, and the rest is history.”
The touchdown was Bowden’s second of the night. With 5:25 left in the first half he ran 74 yards to give North Ridgeville a 13-7 lead. The extra point was missed.
Lakewood then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 46 seconds left in the half.
The second half was a defensive struggle, as neither team could get into the end zone until the trick play.
The opportunity for the win almost didn’t happen as Lakewood’s Marquise Tyus picked off a Bunevich pass with 6:08 left in the game. But North Ridgeville’s defense rose to the occasion and got the ball back by forcing a Lakewood punt at the 20-yard line.
BEACH BUMS: Lakewood’s marching band made everyone feel as though they were at the beach as they played some Beach Boys songs and were dressed in beach attire, complete with surfboards and beach chairs. It was fitting with the temperature in the 90s.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.