By Rick Lytle, staff writer
4th down and 3 yards to go on the 18 yard line. With a first down, the Prospect freshmen football team had a chance to seal the victory and run out the clock. With a stop, Elk Grove would get the ball back and a chance to tie.
Freshman Gary Moeller handed it off to freshman Luke Zardzin, who cut it to the outside and out ran a pursuing lineman for the first down, running over a few unlucky defenders at the end just for good measure.
The Knights defeated the Grenadiers to win their fifth game at George Gattas Memorial Stadium on Friday.
The game was dominated by the two running backs, Zardzin, and freshman Ian Ridge for Elk Grove. The two teams combined for over 400 rushing yards, with almost half of those going to Zardzin, who had 25 carries for 175 yards, 2 touchdowns and a two point conversion.
Zardzin also had 8 tackles on the defensive side of the ball, one of them being a goal-line stop of a two point conversion that would have brought the Grenadiers within six.
This is a normal game for Zardzin, who had 146 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns last week.
“It’s all about knowing your offensive line, I know they’re going to block so I know where the holes are and I put my shoulder down and run through them,” said Zardzin.
Moeller added 48 rushing yards and a touchdown and freshman Noah Marx added 26 rushing yards.
Ridge had himself a day as well, amassing 133 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, keeping his team within striking distance most of the game.
When Prospect went up in the first quarter 12-0 and looked like they could run away with the game, Ridge responded with a 59 yard touchdown.
With 6:30 left in the 4th quarter, Elk Grove was down 20-6. With 4th and 7 and the ball on the Prospect 14 , Ridge took a pitch from the quarterback, Joey Gaskill, shed a tackle, and dove into the end zone to bring the game within a touchdown.
The game was won and lost on big plays, especially one coming at the end of the first half. It was 1st and 10 on the Prospect 13. Gaskill, the quarterback for the Grenadiers, scrambled to his right, then back to his left and eventually threw a strike to his diving wide receiver for the touchdown.
But instead of tying the game 12-12, the play got called back because of a flag for a blindside block. With it now being 1st and 25, Gaskill now had time to lob up a 50/50 ball twice to the end zone before time expired in the first half.
Freshman Wes Neumann, who was playing cornerback at the time noted the swing in momentum.
“We just got to go with the flow. When we get calls our way it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a huge swing of momentum, even more so when a touchdown is called back,” said Neumann.
This proved to be a pivotal play, with Marx opening the second half with a 44 yard kick return, and Prospect controlling most of the game from there.
At the end of the game, the team formed a circle with their helmets in the air and celebrated their victory.
“I felt incredibly proud of my team’s efforts and our win. The excitement was through the roof,” said Neumann.
The Freshman Knights fifth win allowed the team to remain undefeated in conference games this season.