It was homecoming night at Ridge Community and a festive atmosphere was in place for the Friday contest as Bartow made its final road trip of the 2013 season.
And to celebrate the homecoming Ridge sent Bartow to its sixth straight defeat in a 35-6 game. Also a district game, Bartow fell to 0-5 in the district standings.
Ridge won the toss, but elected to defer possession to the second half, giving Bartow the opportunity to bring the offense on the field first. Tre Jordan fell on the short kick and Bartow set up shop at the 24. Dimitri Leverett passed to Jordan for a short gain to get started but two running plays hit road blocks and Matt Martin came on to punt. His kick came to the receiver at the 37 and a good return was wiped out by a block in the back.
A quickness for nine and a run for 11 put Ridge across midfield. The drive stalled and the Bolts faced a fourth down and short. Rather than try for the first down, quarterback Kareem Smith went for it, finding JaDerian Johnson for 41 yards and the first touchdown of the game. Matt Cranston kicked the extra point and Ridge had a 7-0 advantage with 7:55 on the clock.
The short kickoff was taken by Jordan at the 25 and advanced to the 35. Leverett scampered for a short gain and Tyreese Cruz drew a host of tacklers. Leverett found Jordan who made a diving catch for a first down at the 35. Cruz got 8 before Jordan lost the handle on a sweep play that resulted in a five yard loss. Bartow got an apparent first down when Devon McCoy made the catch on a pass, but the officials saw holding to bring the ball back. Faced with third and 20, a long pass was nearly picked up and Martin punted deep. The Bolts took over at the 18.
They did not stay deep in their territory long as Xavier Smith carried for 20 yards as Bolt runners were getting to the outside. Senior runner Cody Pandolfo appeared to be caught behind the line but reversed field and turned a loss into a 27 yard gain. Bartow was cited for a personal foul after the play and the ball was now on the 18. Ridge kept in on the ground and pushed ahead to the three. Bartow committed back to back offsides penalties, but dug in. The defense made some key stops as the first quarter came to an end.
It took Ridge two plays to score when Kareem Smith found Jamie Miranda wide open in the end zone. The kick was on the money as Ridge extended the lead to 14-0.
Bartow had a quick three and out and Martin’s punt rolled to a waiting Bolt receiver, who broke six tackles to advance the ball past the 30, Kareem Smith showed his running prowess by turning back an outside run to pick up 14. Running back Glen Sanon picked up 18 on the next play before Keyshawn Martin put a lick on the running back after a short gain. A run set up fourth and inches and there was no question Ridge would go for it with one of their offensive weapons. Sanon got the call to go outside and Ridge kept their drive alive at the 24. The Bolts were going inside and out. Smith appeared to be caught deep, but it was his turn to reverse field for a big game. As he hurtled the defenders at the end of the play, the officials called a personal foul on Ridge and the ball came back to where it came from. Daniel Lowery got it all back with a 15 yard run. Isom Morris and Keyshawn Martin teamed up to stop the runner for a short game before Kareem Smith ran right at the heart for an 8 yard TD. Ridge took a 21-0 advantage with 4:01 to go in the half.
With senior lineman Jimmie Whitfield standing right in front of his quarterback for protection, Leverett threw for Jordan, but the pass was a touch high. Cruz carried on a sweep and any gain on the play was nullified by a holding call. Cruz had to be helped from the field with an apparent leg injury. Leverett found Jordan who ended up just a yard short. Bartow elected to go for it, but the wide receiver screen did not connect and the home team had one more possession before halftime.
There were some anxious moments for the home team as Kareem Smith lost the handle on two snaps. Neither was as catastrophic as it could have been as Smith heaved the ball downfield on one occasion for a first down. The second resulted in a 7-yard loss with Ridge holding possession at the 11.
A Bartow offsides moved the ball to the 6 but a running play brought fourth down. The Jacket defense stayed strong and stopped the running back for a loss. Bartow took a knee to end the half.
Ridge would take possession to start the second half of the game in hopes of adding to their 21-0 lead. After an incompletion, Sanon took the handoff through a gaping hole and ran for 37 yards. Three plays later, Smith kept the ball and scooted in from 21 yards out to attach the lead to 28-0 with the extra point.
Bartow’s offense went to work after the touchback on the kickoff. Jabray Chisholm found some momentum with two runs of positive gain to move the chains. McCoy carried for a short gain before Leverett executed a nice fake and carried for 12, then hit Martin for 18 more. Leverett went back to Jordan and connected for a first down after a 12 yard gain. Chisholm gained 10 and the drive pushed ahead to the 15. Leverett added 9 more and then carried it in from the 6 for Bartow’s first score with 5:40 to go in the third. The extra point missed for a 28-6 score.
After Jordan delivered a big hit on the kickoff, Ridge set out to move the ball downfield. A big run by Sanon brought more yards after a horse collar tackle. Ridge had instead backup quarterback Carter Paul into the game for experience and his fourth down pass missed, giving Bartow the ball at the 25. Jordan carried for six then Troy Jones hauled in a pass to snare the first down. Jones got a chance to run it and brought six on first down. Chisholm carried for little yardage and Bartow soon was facing fourth down. Leverett tried to hit McCoy, but the ball slipped through his hands.
A fumbled handoff lost four yards on the first play for the Bolts. On the next play, Paul tried to go long and Keyshawn Martin ran over to snag the ball and run out of bounds. Bartow would go to work at the 28. A couple of penalties set Bartow back to third and long. Jordan got the pass a yard short of the far marker, meaning a fourth and one. An option sweep fooled no Ridge defender and resulted in a loss and turning the ball over on downs at the 33. Ridge had their own fourth down with a fourth and four three plays later. It became a fourth and nine after a false start. On the next play, Kareem Smith took the snap and scrambled around to buy time. He ended up 33 yards behind the line of scrimmage and threw a pass downfield that fell incomplete.
Bad luck befell Bartow as a pass downfield was snatched out of the air by Ridge’s Stephaun Maddox, who returned it to the 18. A combination of the Bartow defense and a Bolt penalty led to a fourth and long with 5:37 to play. The fourth down play would amount to a good decision as Kareem Smith found Xavier Smith and Ridge tacked on six more points. cranston’s extra point attempt came from a closer distance due to a Bartow penalty and the line drive kick was good. Ridge marched to a 35-6 advantage with 5:08 to play.
The Jackets return to Bartow Memorial Stadium next week to close the year against the Highlanders of Lake Wales in a non-district contest. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. for senior night.