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Leraris, Garnet Valley storm back to take down Ridley

Tagged under: District 1, Gameday Hub, pfn

| September 2, 2023

(Ronnie Leraris during his third of five touchdowns in a 42-28 win over Ridley (image via JD Filmz)

FOLSOM, PA — Ronnie Leraris had no interest in Garnet Valley losing their first Central League game since 2018.

After dropping their season opener to Central Bucks West by a score of 17-13, Garnet Valley was staring at an 0-2 start to the season as they trailed Ridley 21-7. Ronnie Leraris took the game over after that point as he ran for four touchdowns and caught one as well as Garnet Valley went on a 35-7 run to take down Ridley 42-28.

For a team that is mostly known for running the football, Garnet Valley got off to a quick start through the air as backup QB Luke O’Donoghue hit Leraris for a 40-yard touchdown to open up the scoring. O’Donoghue was starting for in place of an injured Tyler Lassik.

Ridley saw that play and thought it would be pretty fun to try that themselves, so they answered back with a 41-yard touchdown to their #5 as Ryan Carroll hit Khameen Powell with a beautiful throw and Powell did the rest to tie the game up.

After stopping Garnet Valley on fourth down, Ridley got on the board once again after Ryan Carroll continued his hot start with a long throw to Bobby Soper, and Alante Smith punched it in to go ahead 14-7.

Ridley took control of the momentum in a big way when Garnet Valley fumbled on their own 11 yard line, and Ryan Carroll hit Khameen Powell for a four-yard touchdown, the second touchdown of the game already for Powell to make it a 21-7 lead.

This was pretty unforeseen territory for a Garnet Valley team that had just saw their 34-game District 1 winning streak snapped. Something needed to change here, and someone need to step up if they wanted to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.

Garnet Valley got the ball back with a few minutes left in the half and needed to get something going offensively heading into the break, even if that didn’t result in points. Luke O’Donoghue came up huge as he hit Kai Lopez down the sidelines for a 32-yard score, and all of a sudden, it was a one-score game.

The game went into the half at 21-14, and Garnet Valley got a big stop on defense to get the ball back with a chance to tie the game.

It didn’t take long as Ronnie Leraris scored his second touchdown of the game, this one 48 yards to tie this game back up at 21-21. After wondering how Garnet Valley would respond down 21-7, now the question was how would Ridley respond after the Jaguars came back?

After a dominant first half from Ridley QB Ryan Carroll, the Garnet Valley defense finally solved him as Dean Koehler picked him off as he took a deep shot and returned it all the way to the Ridley 47.

That great field position set the tone for the drive, and it ended with Leraris scoring his third touchdown of the day, this one from 12 yards out.

A missed extra point saw the score go to 27-21, but Garnet Valley was about to make that irrelevant.

After forcing another Ridley punt, Leraris broke through for his longest run of the day, a 61 yarder to blow this game open and make it 33-21 after a failed 2PC. It was starting to feel like every time he touched the ball, he was going to take it to the house.

Garnet Valley would then force a safety as they brought down Carroll in the end zone, and they looked like they were in pretty good shape leading 35-21 getting the ball back.

Ridley certainly didn’t go down easily, as they forced a punt and started to march down the field. They cut the lead to 35-28 when Ryan Carroll threw his third touchdown pass of the day, this one for eight yards to Chase Staley.

Every time Ridley started to get momentum in the second half, Ronnie Leraris stole it right back. This time was no different.

With the Ridley fans getting louder as they hoped to get a stop and have the chance at a game-tying drive, Leraris took the first play 48 yards to the end zone for his fifth touchdown of the game to stun the Green Raider faithful and put Garnet Valley up 42-28.

To put it simply, this is one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen in a long time here in Delco. No games are won solely by one player, but 229 and five touchdowns, four of which came in the second half, is absurd.

Garnet Valley would close the game out and take it by a final of 42-28, putting them at 1-1 on the year and 1-0 in the Central League.

“I’m proud of the guys, they responded from a tough loss last week,” said Garnet Valley Head Coach Eric Van Wyk. “We really challenged our guys up front, our O-Line and D-Line, and they really responded tonight.”

This game certainly wasn’t easy, but it showed a lot about the character of the Garnet Valley team. You never really know how any certain group will respond to adversity until you see it firsthand.

This is a program that quite frankly does not lose very often, and in the second half, they played like a team that had no interest in losing twice in a row. It was an extremely impressive half on both sides of the ball, but the defense allowing just seven points after allowing 21 in the first half was the key.

“I think mainly Coach (Marc) Panepinto just drew a couple things up differently,” said Van Wyk. “But more importantly, we just believed in each other. We saw the mistakes that we made in the first half and they came together, they stuck together, and we were able to make a couple of adjustments.

The story of this game at the end of the day was the historic performance from Ronnie Leraris. It takes a full roster to win, but it sure makes life easy when you have one guy score five of your six touchdowns on the day.

“This is a direct reflection of his work ethic,” said Van Wyk talking about Leraris. “In the off-season, he really busted his tail in the weight room and with speed training. As a result, you see what he gets, we’re really proud of him.”

Garnet Valley will continue their stretch of three straight away games to start the season as they will head to Penncrest next Friday night to take on a 2-0 Lions team. As for Ridley, they fall to 0-1 and will continue a brutal start to the year next Friday as they travel to take on Strath Haven.

Leraris’s teammates were eagerly waiting for him to celebrate the win, but we were able to get one simple quote from him about the performance.

“We played our asses off, and roll Jags.”

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