Ashley Ridge had a touchdown from both of its running backs and a linebacker during its 21-6 victory over Woodland Friday.
Ashley Ridge, a Class AAAA team, struggled somewhat moving the ball against Woodland, a Class AA team expected to make a deep playoff run this season. However, the Swamp Foxes defense only allowed Woodland into the Red Zone once during the season opener for both teams.
“It’s been a couple of years since we won our first game so I’m pleased,” Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker said. “Woodland is a tough team so we expected a game like this. Our defense played really well. We were prepared and our defense stepped up and embraced the challenge of slowing down those weapons they have on offense.”
After holding Woodland to only 4 yards on the first possession, Ashley Ridge needed only two plays to score. Running back Tyler Garland broke through a hole in the defense and followed his blockers to get a clear path to the end zone on a 72-yard touchdown run.
Woodland got on the scoreboard with just more than 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter after Ryan Troutman stripped a pass to a Swamp Fox receiver before the receiver gained possession. Woodland linebacker Tim Brown was there to grab the loose ball in midair and returned it 28 yards into the end zone.
But the Swamp Foxes cushioned their lead with a 45-yard scoring drive in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Steven Duncan completed key passes to CT Frederick and Matt Linton on the drive, which was capped by a 6-yard TD run by scat-back Chris Jones.
Duncan completed half of his passes in the first half for 50 yards. Woodland QB Drake Knight completed half of his passes in the first half for 72 yards. Garland led the first-half rushers.
The games final score came with 9:39 in the third quarter when Ashley Ridge linebacker Tyquan Tucker picked off a pass and returned it 35 yards into the end zone.
Woodland coach Mathis Burnette said he was pleased with his team’s effort, especially considering some of his key players missed much of the preseason because of injuries.
“We were a Pick 6 and a big play in the first half from that being a 6-7 ball game so I can’t be mad,” Burnette said. “Our defense played with great heart. Offensively they were better up front than we thought they were going to be, but I think we will play better this season now that we have more people healthy. Hats off to them, but I think we will be ok in the long run.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Woodland used its ground attack and a couple of passes to drive the ball 69 yards to the AR 11-yard line. However, the Wolverines sole trip into the Red Zone came to an end when linebacker Stephan Gilliam picked off a pass at the 9.
It was the Swamp Foxes third interception of the night as Jamal King-Smalls also picked off a Woodland pass in the first quarter.
Ashley Ridge 7 7 7 0–21
Woodland 6 0 0 0–6
A – Tyler Garland 72 run (Matt Gabel kick)
W – Tim Brown 28 interception return (kick failed)
A – Chris Jones 6 run (Gabel kick)
A – Tyquan Tucker 35 interception return (Gabel kick)