Nick Curci scores 5 TDs as Apollo-Ridge gets back on track with win over Burrell

Friday, September 24, 2021 | 10:22 PM

The key to victory for Apollo-Ridge heading into their matchup was at least to slow down Burrell’s senior running back Caden DiCaprio.

The Vikings successfully kept DiCaprio in check in the first half and took a three-score lead into halftime as Apollo-Ridge (1-3) defeated Burrell (0-5), 35-17, in nonconference action at Buccaneer Stadium on Friday night.

Apollo-Ridge returned to the field after last week’s game against Freeport was canceled due to quarantine issues.

“We needed (a win) badly,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “The beginning of the year wasn’t good for us. We started with a bad game against OLSH where we turned the ball over five times. We went down to Avonworth and lost our quarterback. We had some people out for GCC because of pneumonia, and then we couldn’t play against Freeport last week.

“Those kids deserve it. They worked their tails off, and they never left us. They stayed focused and wanted to work.”

The Vikings also welcomed back junior running back Nick Curci, who was dealing with an illness that forced him to miss Apollo-Ridge’s 33-7 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic on Sept. 10.

Curci’s return provided the Vikings with much-needed punch on offense. Curci finished with 150 yards rushing on 11 carries, 150 yards receiving and five total touchdowns – three rushing and two receiving.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for because he shows us stuff during the summer and then he started the season all right,” Skiba said. “But he got pneumonia in Week 2. He’s a great athlete and a great player. He has a great skillset, and I think tonight he did a great job displaying what he can do.”

Trailing 14-3 with less than a minute in the first half, the Buccaneers had a chance to go into the locker room down two scores.

However, the Vikings quickly drove down the field, capped off by a Curci 38-yard touchdown pass from Karter Schrock down the left side as time expired in the first to give the Vikings a 21-3 lead at halftime.

Curci opened up the scoring in the game with a 10-yard run out the Wildcat. On the next Vikings drive, Schrock rolled and found Curci in the back corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter.

Schrock finished with 200 yards passing and the three touchdown passes to Curci.

The Vikings kept their foot on the gas as Apollo-Ridge scored on its first two drives in the second half. Curci capped off the opening drive with a 2-yard run. On the drive, Schrock connected on a 40-yard pass to Darek Baustert to set up the Curci touchdown.

After another stalled Buccaneer drive, Burrell pinned the Vikings deep in the Apollo-Ridge territory, but it didn’t stop Curci as he scampered for a 96-yard touchdown run on the Vikings’ second drive of the second half to extend the lead to 35-3.

DiCaprio was held to 183 yards rushing on 24 carries. He scored two late touchdowns on back-to-back drives to narrow the Vikings’ lead to 35-17. DiCaprio scored from a yard out followed up by a 41-yard touchdown run with under three minutes remaining.

Before DiCaprio’s touchdowns, senior kicker Ethan Croushore connected on a 37-yard field goal to get the Buccaneers on the board, 14-3, with under nine minutes in the second quarter. Croushore redeemed himself after missing a 37-yard field goal earlier in the game.

“We settled for field goals down there when we needed to score touchdowns,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “We were able to get the ball down there quite a few times, but we need to be able to punch those in.”

This is the Buccaneers’ first 0-5 start since the 2014 season. The Vikings avoided their first 0-4 start since 2010.

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