REDMOND — The Ravens scored fast and often in a 49-12 beating of The Dalles on Friday night at Ridgeview High School to win their fourth consecutive game.
Ridgeview (7-1 overall, 4-1 Special District 1) scored in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — to pull away from the Riverhawks (1-5, 1-4) and to put themselves in the hunt for a conference football title with two weeks left in the regular season.
“Besides the two turnovers, we played pretty flawless in the first half,” said Ridgeview coach Patrick Pileggi. “I was happy with how they played. The last few weeks we have won comfortably but it wasn’t very pretty. This one was pretty satisfying.”
If football was a game judged on time of possession rather than points, The Dalles might have won handily. Fortunately for the Ravens, that is not how football works.
Despite racking up the points, the Ravens had several long scoring plays that took little time off the clock.
On the Ravens third offensive play, senior wideout Nathan Benz took a handoff and raced in for a touchdown. The second time he touched the ball, he scored from 54 yards out on a similar running play.
Benz touched the ball four times against the Riverhawks, and three times he found the end zone. His final touchdown came on a kickoff return with a couple of minutes left in the game.
“I was expecting an onside kick but they kicked it in the gap, I picked it up, got some blocks and took it to the house,” Benz said.
But Benz was not the only Raven to score quickly. In the second quarter alone, the Ravens scored four times to build a 35-0 lead and initiate a running clock in the second half.
On defense, Ryan Asplund snagged a fumble out of the air and ran it back for a touchdown. The next time Ridgeview got the ball, junior running back Eric Pendergrass took a handoff and scored from 75 yards out.
With a less than a minute left in the first half, Asplund took a screen pass from junior quarterback Aidan Brenneman, made one defender miss and ran for a 61-yard touchdown.
Junior running back Zorion Issangya scored on the opening drive of the second half to put the game well out of reach. The Dalles would get a pair of touchdowns against the Ravens’ backups on long runs by quarterback Jaxon Pullen.
With seven wins in eight games, the Ravens are currently tied for second in a crowded Class 5A Special District 1 and have perhaps their two toughest games to close out the season. Next Friday they host district-leading Pendleton before ending the season against cross-town rival Redmond.
“A big part of this is learning how to win and believing in yourself,” Pileggi said. “They are learning how to get over the hump and finish things off. Hopefully that keeps building.”