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Tight defense helps River Ridge to victory

The defense held court for River Ridge as its offense struggled early before showing up in the second quarter of a 37-3 victory over Clearwater Central Catholic.

Royal Knights strong safety Cory Hawks returned an interception 15 yards from CCC quarterback Chris Defant to set up River Ridge (4-3) at the Marauders' 21.

On the next play, running back Nate Shipman blew through the middle and jogged the last 5 yards to take a 7-3 edge 2:33 into the second quarter.

The Knights, keyed by a tackle-breaking 32-yard run by John Malacos, drove 62 yards in the next series. Malacos stutter-stepped for a 2-yard touchdown run to finish the drive, and River Ridge was cruising.

"Once we got that first score, things kicked into place," River Ridge coach Scott Schmitz said. "We scored 37 points, but it wasn't very pretty."

On its first series, the Knights lost possession on downs at CCC's 15. The second drive ended after just 20 yards and resulted in a missed 53-yard field goal attempt.

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