NEW PORT RICHEY — As Nate Binder's 37-yard field-goal attempt drifted a couple feet wide right, the River Ridge players on the field and on the sideline jumped up and down.
The Royal Knights had secured a 7-6 win over Hudson as time expired. For much of the season, the Royal Knights haven't had much reason to rejoice.
With only two wins under its belt, River Ridge (3-7) was wrapping up a disappointing campaign Friday night at home, and the last thing the seniors wanted to was another defeat.
Hudson (3-7) provided the Royal Knights with all it could handle. While River Ridge quarterback Josh Maisel was able to able to hit Chris Aldrich for an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give his squad a quick lead, the Cobras stopped the bleeding there.
"We had some bright spots offensively, but we weren't as efficient as we wanted to be," River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin said. "You have to give a lot of credit for that to the Hudson defense."
Maisel, who was 7-of-19 for 88 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, also ran the well with 14 carries for 52 yards, accounting for 140 of the 188 total yards of his team's offense. The senior finished his stellar prep career with 2,544 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and 24 interceptions, and 956 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
"When the season started we expected to make a deep run into the playoffs," Maisel said, "but it's real nice to end things with these guys and this team with a win."
The Cobras' rushing attack wore down the River Ridge defensive front in the second half, but turnovers, including two fumbles, stalled the offense. Eventually, Justyn Johnson plunged in from 5 yards to score for Hudson in the fourth.
The extra point was blocked by Jordan Harris, who also recorded a sack and blocked punt, to maintain the 7-6 advantage. A stop by Hudson gave the Cobras one final shot with two minutes remaining. Solid rushing by Hudson quarterback Owen Derksen (15 carries, career-high 101 yards) got the team in field-goal range.
"It took us until the second half to get anything going," Hudson coach Mark Kantor said. "Once we got outside and put the ball in (Derksen's) hands, he began to make some plays."
Binder, who has been good this season, had plenty of leg behind the kick, but it drifted right to secure the River Ridge victory as time expired.