Tim Barney spent the first part of his Friday watching game-winning college football field goals on YouTube.
His extra time watching film paid off.
The senior kicker nailed a 33-yard field goal in overtime to lift Vandegrift to a district-opening 17-14 win against two-time defending district champions and state semifinalist Cedar Ridge on Friday night.
“Obviously I was nervous,” Barney said. “I knew it was going to be a close game. Right before halftime, my teammates were telling me I was going to get my chance. We all did our jobs. When I go out and kick on the weekends, I’m counting down to clock.”
Cedar Ridge scored on its first drive of the game and doubled its lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. Senior receiver Jaylen Ellis was ejected for targeting with more than five minutes left in the game.
The Vipers rallied with a pair of touchdown runs by senior Isaiah Smallwood, including the game-tying touchdown with just over a minutes to go in regulation.
“If you stay within striking distance the entire game, you have a chance and that’s exactly what happened,” Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said. “The defense was unbelievable tonight. That doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but (Cedar Ridge) was on the positive side of the field and they came away with just one score.”
Smallwood finished the game with 70 yards.
“We just stayed patient and kept believing in the coaches and the gameplan that we had,” Smallwood said.
Vandegrift quarterback Dru Dawson finished 11 of 21 passing for 123 yards with one interception and ran for 87 yards. Senior Ryan Merrifield led the Vipers’ receiving corps with four receptions for 42 yards.
Ellis finished the game with four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders, and running back Deuce Vaughn rushed for 137 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Jalen Brown completed 8 of 16 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s going to be hard to go through this district without a loss,” Cedar Ridge head coach Sam Robinson said. “We opened up against one of the top teams in the district and we’ve still got a lot of tough teams ahead of us. This one is over and we’ve got to move on and learn from it.”
On the first drive of the game, Vandegrift made an error in the defensive backfield and Ellis got wide open in the end zone, catching a 41-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game.
Neither team moved the ball much in the first half. Aside from the 41-yard bomb, the longest play of the half for Cedar Ridge was a 33-yard pass and Vandegrift’s longest play was an 18-yard run in the second quarter.
The Vandegrift defense came up big in the third quarter as they stuffed the Raiders’ offense deep in the Vipers’ red zone twice and only allowed them to score on a 2-yard rush by Brown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But the rally started on the next drive when Smallwood took a direct snap in from a few yards out. The game-tying 10-yard touchdown run by Smallwood capped off an 8-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Mongauzy and Trevor Harrison combined for a sack on 3rd down and Jax McCauley got into the backfield on fourth down in overtime to keep the Raiders off the board.
“We started pushing them around at the end, it was nice to see our conditioning take place,” Sanders said. “Cedar Ridge is a very good team.”
Vandegrift continues district play on at the Pfield against Hendrickson on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., while Cedar Ridge plays host to Leander.
“We just made some self-inflicted mistakes that gave them a chance,” Robinson said. “(Vandegrift) fought their butts off and took advantage of it.”