Liam Tarleton connected with Tom Bourque for a 26-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-16 and stopped Old Tappan’s last attempt on a Harrison Roberts interception with 1:32 left to beat Old Tappan, 16-15.
First Quarter: Ridgewood opened the game with a seven-minute drive and got on the board with a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Chmiel. The big play on the drive was when Tarleton found Bourque for 44 yards and the Maroons made it as far as the 12-yard line. Old Tappan answered with a balanced attack of Will Rodriguez running and Niko Orecchio passing, scoring on a 1-yard Rodriguez run, 33 seconds into the second quarter. The biggest play on the drive was a 22-yard pass to Kevin Weis.
Second Quarter: The quarter consisted of an exchange of punts, followed by an exchange of interceptions, before Ridgewood ran out of time.
Third Quarter: After an Old Tappan punt, Ridgewood moved in front when Tarleton found Bourque in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown, but the extra point failed. The Maroons were up, 9-7 with 5:31 left in the quarter. Old Tappan answered when Orecchio scored from four yards out with an assist from the offensive line twelve seconds into the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter: John Kearney intercepted for Ridgewood on the 6-yard line and returned it 18 yards. After a 28-yard run by Gabe Santiago to the 45 of Old Tappan, Tarleton found Bourque for 10 yards to the 20, but a Ridgewood penalty pushed them back five yards on the following play for a first-and-15. On fourth-and-16, Ridgewood was in a do-or-die situation and the Maroons found a way to “do.” Tarleton found Bourque just over the goal line on a fade and Bourque, with a defender over him, caught the ball for the go-ahead score with 5:25 left. After picking up a couple of first downs, Old Tappan had the ball at midfield. Rodriguez picked up four yards, followed by Orecchio getting two, making it third-and-4 for the Golden Knights. On a run by Rodriguez, Andrew Messineo had the needed penetration to tackle him for no gain, forcing fourth-and-4. Roberts picked off the last-ditch attempt and the Maroons proceeded to run out the clock.
Old Tappan -7-0-0-8-15
Ridgewood – 3-0-6-7-16
R – Chmiel, 28-yard field goal
OT – Rodriguez, 1-yard run (kick good)
R – Bourque, 16-yard pass from Tarleton (kick failed)
OT – Orecchio, 4-yard run (pass succeeded)
R – Bourque, 26-yard pass from Tarleton (kick good)
Summary: This was an outstanding game, the first game I saw this year that was a classic; this game is an early favorite to be one of the five best games I will see this year. While Ridgewood is known for their ground game, it was the Tarleton-to-Bourque combination that made the Ridgewood offense go. The pair connected six times for 128 yards, two touchdowns, and 12 of the team’s 16 points. The Maroons have a very young and inexperienced line and they gave enough time to let those two work their magic. The line of Messineo, AJ Liguori, Brendan Powers, Caleb Walsh, and Logan Albronda deserve credit. In addition, Santiago gained 49 yards on 4 carries on the final two drives for the Maroons and 59 yards on 10 carries for the game.
Ridgewood head coach Chuck Johnson: “I love this group of kids and they have tremendous chemistry. We went in at halftime determined to work on the penalties we committed. I told the guys ‘I don’t know if a Ridgewood team has ever committed that many penalties in a half’. Tommy Bourque is such a good receiver and on the winning touchdown, he showed such good body control.”
Ridgewood quarterback Liam Tarleton: “I had nerves before the winning touchdown, but we (Bourque and I) made the play earlier in the game and we knew we could do it. We have experience from last year and have built a connection.”
Ridgewood wide receiver Tom Bourque: “We called a fade to the left and they were in man coverage. Liam (Tarleton) made a good play and I found a way to catch the ball at its highest point.”
Ridgewood lineman Andrew Messineo: “The guards pulled when I was in a 4-technique and I was told to make a play when that happened. I shot the gap, the running back was there, and I tackled him. We made a lot of penalties in the first half; we had to fix them if we were going to win this game and we came out in the second half with fewer penalties.”