By ANDREW SKWARAOne year after getting blown out at Battle Ground Academy by 32 points, Ravenwood nearly came back to win the rematch in a surprisingly close 20-17 defeat in front of a packed home crowd in its season opener Friday night.
Photos by ANDREW COLLIGNON for FHP
If a loss ever showed progress, this was it.
One year after getting blown out at Battle Ground Academy by 32 points, Ravenwood nearly came back to win the rematch in a surprisingly close 20-17 defeat in front of a packed home crowd in its season opener Friday night.
After falling behind 20-3, Ravenwood scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and had the ball with two minutes left after recovering an onside kick. But losing a fumble near midfield ended the comeback.
Ravenwood’s second-year coach Joe Rietveld pointed towards his seniors as to why the Raptors were far more competitive this time around against a BGA team that was coming off an impressive 23-7 win over Smyrna last week.
“I’ve believed in my seniors all year long and I just wanted this so bad for them,” said Rietveld. “I told these guys that in my 25-plus years of coaching, this is the best senior class I’ve been around. They really care about this entire program.”
Ravenwood (0-1) was without its starting quarterback, Andrew Radford, who is recovering from offseason surgery. Rietveld chose to go with a two-man system under center with senior John Overton and sophomore Connor Rietveld sharing snaps and each directed long scoring drives in the final 10 minutes.
Connor Rietveld fired a perfect fourth-down pass into the hands of Jaylen McGriff for a 15-yard touchdown and Overton followed with a four-yard scoring strike to Brandon Jordan with 2:02 left.
Michael Giangreco’s extra point cut BGA’s lead to 20-17 and the Raptors then recovered the onside kick at the BGA 48-yard line. But, three plays later, a fumbled snap to Overton was recovered by BGA’s Hasty Moran.
“I just think it was a wet ball,” Joe Rietveld said of the miscue. “Nobody knew where it was going. I almost burned (our last timeout) and brought in a different quarterback, but John did a great job. Our O-line was on a roll and it was great to see our kids step up and make plays.”
BGA, which won last year’s meeting, 42-10, got plenty of big plays from its offense and that proved to be the difference. Their star running back Keenan Bass had four runs of 20 yards or more and scored both of his team’s touchdowns on runs of 11 and 12 yards.
BGA quarterback Tucker Beathard also completed four passes of 21 yards or more, two of which set up a pair of field goals from Brock Morss, which gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.
Ravenwood’s defense had its share of bright moments too, including forcing a three-and-out that set up the Raptors’ second touchdown. Robert Johnson sacked Beathard three times, linebacker Will Pomeroy made a number of key tackles and corner Will Johnson had two big pass break-ups.
“The defense did a fantastic job,” Joe Rietveld said. “BGA made a few key catches and we had a couple of calls that didn’t go our way, but the kids will regroup.”
Late in the second quarter, Ravenwood was called for defensive holding twice on BGA punts. That allowed a drive to stay alive which led to Bass’ first score and a 13-0 halftime lead for the Wildcats.
“The second (call) was a legit, but the first one they had to have a discussion about and should have waved off,” Joe Rietveld said. “We have to move on and improve on the little things as the season progresses.”
Ravenwood got its first score on the opening drive of the third quarter when Giangreco converted a 31-yard field goal to cut BGA’s lead to 13-3.