WESTLAKE — Home field matters when North Ridgeville and Westlake meet.
Year after year, the non-conference matchup to open the season ends with the home team victorious. Friday night was no different, but the outcome was in doubt until the end in the Demons’ 34-33 win.
The gave was decided with 46 seconds left when North Ridgeville’s Demario McCall scored his fifth touchdown to pull the Rangers within a point. They went for the 2-point conversion to avoid overtime and pull out the road win.
Sophomore quarterback Collin Sullinger missed connections with Tyler Rowe who was running free at the back of the end zone.
“It was a play-action pass where we fake it to Demario one way and we just missed it,” first-year North Ridgeville coach Luke Durbin said. “I don’t regret it because I think it was the right decision.
“We just didn’t see him. We had a little pressure off the edge and just didn’t see him.”
The Rangers took a 20-14 lead into the locker room at the half, only to have Westlake tie the game at 20 going into the fourth quarter.
McCall, who rushed for 286 yards and five touchdowns on 26 carries, gave North Ridgeville a 27-20 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 36-yard run. Westlake’s JaQuan Hardy come right back with a 1-yard run, and quarterback Andris Balodis ran in the 2-point conversion, barely getting into the corner of the end zone for a 28-27 lead.
Brody Evans added to the lead with a 2-yard run to make it 34-27 with 2:33 left. The snap from center sailed over the quarterback’s head and the Rangers recovered to keep the score at 34-27 and give themselves the opportunity for the win.
The Rangers put together the 11-play, 53-yard drive capped by McCall’s fifth touchdown on a 10-yard run.
Westlake’s Tristan Grimes recovered the onside kick to seal the game.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.