WESLEY CHAPEL — A game that was just 3-0 with three minutes left in the first half, ended with a running clock before the third quarter was up. Mikey Roussos scored three touchdowns, D.J. Mann picked off a pair of passes, and River Ridge held Wesley Chapel to 55 total yards as the Knights rolled to a 47-0 victory Friday.
Though the win locked up second place in District 5A-8, unlike past years that does not clinch a playoff spot. River Ridge (6-3, 6-1) feels like it still must win the regular-season finale against Sunlake.
"We gotta have it," Knights head coach Ryan Benjamin said of next week's home matchup with the Seahawks.
Michael Webster's 43-yard field goal had River Ridge up 3-0 on its first drive, but then holding calls stalled out the next two possessions resulting in punts. However the Knights committed just two five-yard infractions the rest of the way.
Short fields helped speed along the scoring, as did the pair of 30-yard interception runbacks from Mann — who had more picks than Chapel had completions. A short Chapel punt led to a 41-yard drive, capped by Roussos' 20-yard touchdown run off a direct snap, and it was 10-0 with 2:37 left in the half. Then Mann's first pick and runback to the 10 led to Roussos, on a similar run to the left from four yards, providing a 17-0 halftime lead.
Again in good starting position to open the third after a failed onside kick, Devin Gallo took over at quarterback when Kyle St. John twisted his ankle, and hit Anthony Kendall for a big 17-yard pass on third and 15. Gallo then ran for 11 yards down to the three, from where Mann ran in for a score. Mann intercepted Justin Trapnell on the next play, and it was 32-0 after Roussos' 13-yard touchdown reception of a deflected Gallo pass.
Roussos ran for a two-point conversion after that touchdown, as he did after TE Tyler Poirier's 19-yard scoring pass from Gallo, to make it 40-0 with 1:47 left in the third. River Ridge got the five touchdowns in 13 minutes of action, and Bryce Smith added the final score on a tough six-yard run midway through the fourth.
Gallo — who usually plays out of the I-formation, with St. John the spread quarterback — finished 7-of-10 for 76 yards while St. John, who was able to come in later, went 10-of-16 for 64.
"We have a true two-quarterback system, Gallo came in and did a solid job. When we play mistake-free football, we're pretty potent," Benjamin said.
Roussos ran for 31 yards on eight carries, while catching six passes for 43 yards. Kendall had four grabs for 33 yards. Eight Knights rushers combined for 126 yards on 32 carries. Jason Utegg added 32 yards from scrimmage.
In addition to his interceptions, Mann supplied several impressive tackles for loss on defense as did DE Thomas Carrano.
After Malik Melvin's 31-yard surprise pass to Trapnell out of the wildcat formation on the game's second play, the Wildcats (6-4, 4-3) gained 24 yards the rest of the way, just three in the second half. Trapnell completed just one pass in eight attempts, and Melvin was tackled for no gain.