East Lake High proved Friday night that it is for real, and Ridgewood showed it is not ready to join the Class 4A, District 8 football elite.
While Ridgewood keyed on fullback Jay J. Martin, Eagles tailback Pete Apostolou rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns to lead East Lake to a 33-8 victory.
Two weeks after a 13-10 victory over three-time defending district champion Tarpon Springs, East Lake improved to 2-0 in 4A-8 and 3-0 overall.
"People were saying Tarpon Springs was a fluke," East Lake coach Rob Jenkins said. "Well, tonight we proved we're for real. We beat a very good football team."
Ridgewood, off to the best start in its history, entered the game 1-0 in 4A-8 and 3-0 overall. But the East Lake defense shut down the Rams' vaunted wing-T rushing attack.
"The old wing-T didn't work tonight," Ridgewood coach John Castelamare said in a steady downpour after the game. "They plugged the holes and stopped us. Sure, the weather hurt us, but both teams had to play in it and they did the job."
East Lake used a combination of big plays, long drives and Ridgewood mistakes to lead 33-0 after three quarters.
The first big play was Apostolou's, on the first play from scrimmage. He ran off tackle, bounced off three defenders, and outran the defense 70 yards for a touchdown 37 seconds into the game. Steve Riggs' kick made it 7-0.
After the teams traded possessions, rainy weather caused the first fumble, midway through the first quarter.
East Lake's Mark Moore could not handle Ivan Castano's bouncing 47-yard punt. Ridgewood's Kevin Gambill recovered at the East Lake 42, but the Rams could not take advantage, going four downs and out.
After East Lake failed on a fake field goal, the teams exchanged fumbles and Ridgewood took possession at its 22. The Rams used six minutes to drive to the East Lake 7-yard line, the key play a 46-yard pass that Ray Pepito lofted into Gambill's hands on third down and 9.
Ridgewood reached the 1 on two running plays and an offside penalty, setting up third-and-goal. The Rams tried the middle twice, but Pepito was stuffed on the first play and fullback Robbie Blankenship was stood up on fourth down.
"That really hurt us," Castelamare said. "It could have been a tie game, but instead they held us, gained the momentum, and scored."
It took the Eagles just three minutes to drive 99 yards, with Apostolou doing the damage again. The tailback broke through the middle of the defense and went 43 yards for the touchdown, lunging the final two yards to make it 13-0 with 27 seconds left in the first half.