BLOOMINGTON - With both teams looking for its first conference win of the season, last Friday night’s Six Rivers football game between River Ridge and Cassville was all that fans thought it would be.
By the time the final whistle had blown, it was the visiting Comets coming out victorious in a hard-fought 14-7 final that came down to the final seconds.
With the win, coach Doug Fure’s squad improved to 1-4 in league play and 1-4 overall, while coach Wade Winkers’ Timberwolves fell to 0-4, 1-4.
There was a clear momentum switch in Friday’s game at the 6:02 point in the second quarter, when River Ridge fullback Joel Mezera left the game with a high ankle sprain.
At the time of his departure, River Ridge was holding onto a 7-0 lead, which they had gotten on a 33-yard halfback option touchdown pass from Zach Ertz to Mezera.
Making the extra point kick for River Ridge was Tara Hoeldold, a foreign exchange student from Norway who has proven to posses some kick skills.
When Mezera had left the game, he had already run for 41 yards on seven carries, giving him an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, he did not return.
“It really hurt us not having our largest offensive threat and best tackler, but that’s not an excuse,” said River Ridge coach Wade Winkers of Mezera.
Without Mezera, the River Ridge offense had a hard time moving the ball, and without his presence on defense, Cassville was more effective.
To start the second half, River Ridge turned the ball over on just their second play, losing a fumble at Cassville’s 43-yards line.
The Comets used nine plays to capitalize on the miscue, as Cole Adams scored from 11-yards out with 6:17 to play in the third quarter.
The extra-point kick by Erik Albaage tied the game up at 7-7.
After forcing River Ridge into a three-and-out, Cassville used a big punt return by Adams to set up shop at the River Ridge 16-yard line.
After a two-yard gain, followed by back-to-back losses, the Comets were faced with a fourth-and-10 at the 16.
Albaage attempted a 33-yard field-goal attempt that was off the mark, leaving the score at 7-7 with 1:22 to play in the third quarter.
Forced to punt on their next possession, River Ridge gave the ball back over to the Comets with 11:12 to play in the fourth quarter.
Cassville used five plays to cover 41 yards, and took a 13-7 lead on an eight-yard TD run by Codi Schwab.
Albaage’s extra-point kick with 9:19 left to play gave the Comets a 14-7 lead.
On River Ridge’s next possession, it was time for sophomore fullback Zach Ertz to carry the load and get River Ridge in position to tie the game.
Ertz carried the ball 12 times on a 47-yard drive that saw River Ridge convert two fourth-down attempts, one on their own 20-yard line.
Faced with a fourth-and-13 from Cassville’s 48-yard line, the Timberwolves turned the ball over on a fumble with 1:19 to play in the game.
Cassville was able to run the clock out and capture their first win of the 2012 season.
Cassville finished the game with 144 yards rushing on 40 attempts, and was led by Cole Adams, who had 84 yards and one TD on 15 carries.
Cassville quarterback Hunter Nix completed 4-of-6 passing attempts for 67 yards, hitting Dallas Esser all four times.
River Ridge finished the game with 114 yards rushing on 43 attempts, 41 coming from Mezera before leaving the game in the second quarter, and 42 coming from Ertz on River Ridge’s final drive of the night.
Ertz finished the game with 52 yards rushing on 23 carries. He also completed the team’s only passing attempt for a 33-yard TD.
Leading the Cassville defense with 11 tackles each were Cole Adams and Brad Klein, while Adam Kirschbaum had 10 stops and Gabe Phillips nine.
The River Ridge defense was led by Ertz who had 14 tackles, followed by Trevor Langmeier with eight and Jeremy Cliff with six.
The Timberwolves (0-4, 1-4) host Shullsburg (1-3, 2-3) this Friday night, while Cassville (1-4, 1-4) goes to Black Hawk (3-2, 3-2) on Saturday.
Cassville 14, River Ridge 7
(from Friday, Sept. 21)
Cassville 0 0 7 7 - 14
River Ridge 7 0 0 0 - 7
RR - Joel Mezera, 33-yard pass from Zach Ertz (Tara Hoeldold kick)
C - Cole Adams, 11-yard run (Albage kick)
C - Codi Schwab, 8-yard run (Albage kick)
First downs - C 12, RR 5. Rushing - C 40-144, RR 43-114. Passing yards - C 67, RR 33. Passes - C 4-6-0, RR 1-1-0. Fumbles-lost - C 2-2, RR 2-2. Penalties-yards - C 7-57, RR 9-70.
Rushing - C: Cole Adams 15-84; RR: Zach Ertz 23-52, Joel Mezera 7-41, Alex Morgan 12-21. Passing - C: Hunter Nix 4-6-0, 67; RR: Zach Ertz 1-1-0, 33. Receiving - C: Dallas Esser 4-67; RR: Joel Mezera 1-33.