NEW PORT RICHEY — Sunlake's defense stopped River Ridge on the 2-yard line in the final seconds Friday night to escape with a 20-13 victory.
Defense gave the Royal Knights a chance to tie the score when they recovered a fumble on their 41-yard line with just more than three minutes to play. After converting on third and inches and two fourth downs on the drive, River Ridge had fourth down and goal from the 11-yard line, down by seven.
River Ridge quarterback Joshua Maisel threw an incompletion but Sunlake was flagged for pass interference, setting up first and goal from the 5 with seven seconds left and no timeouts. The Knights were left 2 yards short as time expired.
River Ridge got within seven points when Brian Clinkscale received a pitch to his right, stopped, and launched a 65-yard touchdown to Brandon Nazzario who caught it on his fingertips and walked into the end zone.
After recovering a River Ridge fumble, Sunlake took a 13-6 lead in the third quarter when Cameron Stoltz led wide out Jamal Jones into the end zone from 29 yards.
River Ridge went four and out on its next possession and on the ensuing punt, Eddie Burgos returned the punt 67 yards, setting up first and goal from the 10-yard line with 10 seconds left in the third quarter. Two plays into the fourth quarter, the Seahawks extended their lead to 20-6 on Stoltz's third touchdown pass, this one to Rashaud Daniels from 14 yards.
Sunlake's opening possession of the game ended quickly when Stoltz was intercepted on second down by linebacker Joshua Kreshon. But on the next play River Ridge fumbled the ball right back to Sunlake.
The next drive put Sunlake up 6-0 when Stoltz hit Burgos from 5 yards.
River Ridge tied it at 6 with nine minutes left in the second quarter when running back Austin Schwarz punched it in from 1 yard.