It was as festive an atmosphere as I had seen at Emerson in a long time, but Park Ridge spoiled the party with a 27-21 win in a battle of previously undefeated teams.
Emerson struck first when Ryan Shaw scored on a 6-yard run in the latter part of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Park Ridge came alive, led by quarterback Vincent Pinto, scoring on touchdown runs of five and two yards to put the Owls in front, 13-7. Pinto’s 54-yard run down the right sideline set up the second score. Park Ridge took advantage of another opportunity when they recovered an Emerson fumble. Pinto found Brendan Hughes for a 20-yard score and they were up, 20-7, with two minutes left in the half. The game was delayed at that point for an injured Emerson player attempting to make a tackle on the touchdown.
Emerson was able to drive down the field and scored on a 9-yard pass from Peter Durocher to Nico Savino with twelve seconds left in the half.
Park Ridge came out with the ball in the third quarter and proceeded to eat up eight minutes and Pinto connected with Zach Lewis on a scoring pass of six yards to put the Owls ahead, 27-14.
It looked as if Park Ridge was in control when they intercepted at midfield late in the third quarter. But Emerson returned the favor when Tommy Leuck intercepted on the opening play of the fourth quarter. The Cavos scored on the ensuing drive when Durocher and Savino connected again on a 4-yard touchdown, as Savino made a jumping catch in the end zone.
Emerson had their opportunity to win the game when Nick Peterson intercepted on the Emerson 33. The Cavos moved the ball down the field, converting a fourth-and-three on the Park Ridge 23 when Durocher found Savino for twelve yards to the 11. But it was Park Ridge who turned the tables with 35 seconds left when Lewis intercepted at the 11 and ran up the left sideline to the Emerson 40 and the Owls ran out the clock.
There were two differences that won the game for Park Ridge. First, Pinto was a force running the ball, picking up yards when needed. Second, the Park Ridge defense made things uncomfortable for Emerson with their pass rush, including many blitzes.
Emerson kept playing in the face of adversity with Savino making several key catches, but they were not able to overcome the 20 points Park Ridge put up in the second quarter.