NEW PORT RICHEY — As an admittedly nervous John Schwindt lined up for his first shot at a game winner, the Mitchell kicker got just the thing he needed. And that was a timeout by the opponent.
Schwindt drilled a 32-yarder as time expired Friday to give Mitchell a wild 24-21 victory over River Ridge.
"I was just rattled, then that timeout really helped me to calm down," he said.
There was plenty to get emotional about. River Ridge had dramatically tied the game with 1:37 remaining after trailing 21-7 in the fourth quarter. Royal Knights senior Ben Perdomo carried the ball 39 times, a dozen of those on the tying drive, for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
After Perdomo's second fourth-down conversion got the Knights to the 1-yard line, quarterback Patrick Mathieson snuck it in and James Garland's extra point made it 21-21.
But Mitchell's Taylor Schneider hooked up three times with sophomore receiver J.J. Lewis to set up Schwindt. A 27-yard connection on third and 10 when the game looked headed to overtime was big, as was an 8-yard drag route on fourth down two plays before the kick.
The Mustangs (3-2) won without the injured Christian Trinidad. Nate Boler took up the slack with 115 yards, his 52-yard score making it 21-7 late in the third quarter. Nate Marsh added two rushing touchdowns.
Mitchell led 14-7 at halftime despite having run just 13 plays and seeing the Knights (2-3) post double the yardage. River Ridge was dominating early, Perdomo's 2-yard run finishing off a 14-play, 75-yard drive.
"We were able to run the ball even when they knew what we were doing," said River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin. "To come back like we did, and do it running the ball, I don't think many high school teams could have pulled that off."
Jeremy Gruerio turned things around after River Ridge's early dominance. The two-way lineman jarred the ball loose from Perdomo, and Larry Couch recovered and took it to the Knights' 40. It took the Mustangs five plays to score, with Marsh going in from 2 yards after an earlier 18-yard run.
Marsh's second score, a 14-yarder, capped another five-play march that included Boler's 25-yard run.
Couch was Mitchell's leading tackler. Lewis finished with six catches for 82 yards. Trevor Duke had three catches for 34 to pace River Ridge (2-3).