RIDGWAY — With the game tied at seven early in the second quarter, St. Marys scored 28 unanswered points on the way to securing a 35-21 victory on the road over Ridgway Friday night.
The Dutch led 7-0 after one quarter of play, before Camron Marciniak picked off a Christian Coudriet pass and returned it 45 yards for a score to tie the game just 1:32 into the second quarter.
St. Marys responded by scoring the next 21 points of the quarter to take a three-touchdown lead into the half.
On the ensuing drive after the pick-six, the visitors went 69 yards on nine plays to recapture the lead.
The big play came when Coudriet connected with Logan Mosier for a 41-yard gain down to the Elkers’ 1-yard line.
Coudriet then finished the drive off himself, punching it in from a yard out as Vinicius Nunes connected on the extra point to make it 14-7 with 7:38 to go in the first half.
Ridgway looked to respond, but saw a fumbled exchange on its first play of the drive recovered by Dutchmen Caiden Baker for a turnover.
Four plays later, Coudriet used another 1-yard quarterback sneak to add to St. Marys’ lead, as the play was set up by a 24-yard pass to Bryce Walker.
Coudriet’s score came just 1:22 after his previous rushing touchdown and pushed the lead to 21-7.
The Elkers then went three-and-out and were forced to punt as the Dutch offense got back to work.
St. Marys eventually found the end zone on a Jacob Kline carry, but the score was called back due to a holding penalty.
Nunes would eventually come out to attempt a 28-yard field goal, which he saw come up just short and clang off the crossbar.
Taking over on their own 20-yard line with 23 seconds to go, the Elkers looked to run out the clock, but instead saw another fumble recovered by St. Marys, as this time it was James Davis pouncing on the loose ball.
Coudriet dropped back on the first play of the ensuing drive and found Michael Fitzgerald for a 23-yard touchdown to make the score 28-7 with 11 seconds left in the opening half.
After winning the opening coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Dutch were able to build on their lead on the opening drive of the second half.
On the second play of the third quarter, Kline broke through a big hole up the middle for a 64-yard pickup to set St. Marys up at the Elkers’ 18-yard line.
Kline finished the night with 151 yards on 15 carries.
Coudriet then used yet another quarterback sneak to cap the drive from two yards out for his fourth rushing score of the game.
Nunes, who went 5-of-5 on extra points in the win, made it a 35-7 game just 1:28 into the second half.
Ridgway quarterback Ben Briggs scored on a 16-yard keeper on the final play of the third quarter to cut the deficit to three touchdowns heading into the final quarter of play.
The margin remained 21 until late in the game, when Briggs found Wil Howard deep downfield behind the defense for a 95-yard touchdown connection with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 35-21.
St. Marys’ defense set the tone early, forcing a three-and-out on the Elkers’ opening drive of the game.
The offense then went 53 yards on eight plays for the game’s first score.
Kline led the way on the first drive with 37 yards on the ground, including a 19-yard pickup, which eventually set up a 1-yard rushing score by Coudriet.
While the Dutchmen quarterback only had five carries for seven yards on the night, four of those rushes ended in the end zone.
Coudriet also threw for the one score on 15-of-28 passing for 213 yards, but the junior was also intercepted three times, including the pick-six.
Along with Marciniak’s interception return for a score, Briggs and Dominic Cherry added picks for the Elker defense, while Mosier had St. Marys’ lone interception in the win.
Both teams begin play in the District 9 playoffs next week, as Ridgway will play in the Class 2A semifinals against an opponent to be determined at a site and time to be determined.
St. Marys while face Clearfield in the Class 3A title game next Saturday at Brockway’s Frank Varischetti Field at 1 p.m.