Apollo-Ridge defeats rival Leechburg in Week Zero matchup

Friday, August 23, 2019 | 11:44 PM

The Apollo-Ridge football team had payback on its mind after Leechburg won last year’s meeting to snap the Vikings’ eight-game winning streak in the rivalry series.

Led by the hard running — and opportunistic defense — of Logan Harmon, Apollo-Ridge scored a 28-12 victory over the Blue Devils on Friday at Leechburg’s Veterans Memorial Field.

“We didn’t start out very well,” Vikings coach John Skiba said. “It was very reminiscent of last year. They had field position right away, and then we shot ourselves in the foot over and over again. We had to battle through all that stuff. But the guys stayed the course. That was the biggest thing. We’ve learned so much. I’m just so happy for these guys.”

Harmon finished the game with 196 yards on 23 carries and scored all of Apollo-Ridge’s offensive touchdowns with runs of 23, 17 and 8 yards.

His final score of the night came with 2 minutes and 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter and all but salted the game away.

Apollo-Ridge led 21-0 early in the third quarter, but Leechburg rallied for two touchdowns on scoring passes of 69 and 8 yards from Dylan Cook to Jake Blumer.

The second score, with 8:54 left, capped a long drive that was set up by a Chace Wadsworth interception.

The Vikings started their clinching scoring drive with 8:30 on the clock and rode the legs of Harmon. He got the ball on every play of the drive — 10 in all — and covered 65 yards.

“We finally grew a little bit tonight,” Skiba said. “We said we were going to be a physical team, and that drive was it. Those kids battled all night. Logan is the spearhead. When he’s battling, they all jump on board. That drive was all him. He kept saying, ‘Just feed me, just feed me.’ ”

The Leechburg offense got one final opportunity, but time ran out as the Blue Devils reached Apollo-Ridge territory.

“I am really proud of the way we competed, didn’t give up and came back,” Leechburg coach Mark George said. “We learned a lot about that last year, and that carried over to (Friday).

“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times with penalties. I don’t know how many penalty yards we had, but I am not going to be happy. But the guys showed character and fought hard.”

Cook finished 18 of 28 passing for 311 yards and the two TD passes to Blumer. Eli Rich caught four of Cook’s passes for 117 yards, Blumer finished with five receptions for 85 yards and Anthony Mangee hauled in seven for 94 yards.

“The offense was able to open it up a little more than we have in the past,” George said. “We saw a lot of good things with that. Dylan did a nice job throwing on the run, which we thought he could do. A number of our receivers did a really nice job.”

Leechburg’s deepest movement into Apollo-Ridge territory came right before halftime as a Cook-to-Rich 66-yard completion brought the ball to the Vikings’ 7. But on the next play, Harmon scooped up a fumble at the 4 and raced the length of the field for a touchdown to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.

Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jake Fello added 10 carries for 52 yards and completed 4 of 10 passes for 61 yards. Klay Fitzroy caught three passes for 49 yards.

“We’ll watch some film tomorrow and figure some things out,” Skiba said. “Next week, we open conference play with Summit, and we’ll see what happens.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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