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Mineral Ridge posts third straight victory

Correspondent photo / Dave Dermer Mineral Ridge’s Mark Bunch pitches the ball while being hit by Wellington’s Drew Unangst during the first half of their playoff game, Saturday night at Mineral Ridge High School.

MINERAL RIDGE — The Rams are rolling. After beginning the season with a 1-3 record, Mineral Ridge has now won three games in a row by a combined score of 133-16.

The Rams latest victims were the Wellington Dukes, 40-8, in the first round of the Division VI Region 21 playoffs Saturday evening.

“It was a great game for our kids,” Mineral Ridge coach Brian Shaner said. ” They played great against a team that we really don’t know anything about. Wellington definitely outsized us. They outweighed us. I couldn’t even tell you the weight up front. Our kids play their tails off for us every single week. I didn’t expect anything less tonight.

“They went out and got us a big playoff win.”

Mineral Ridge got out to an early advantage. The Dukes got the ball first and went three-and-out. After a short punt, Shakir Perkins ran the ball in to make it 7-0. Jalen Royal-Eiland added a rushing touchdown of his own and the Rams led, 14-0, at the end of the first quarter.

Randall Miller and the Rams defense shut down Wellington in the first, but the Dukes put together a good drive to start the second. Wellington drove the ball to the Mineral Ridge 5 yard line. On 3rd and goal, senior Joe Rozzi and sophomore Nathan Rohrman took down Wellington’s Jayden Skinner with a quarterback sack. On 4th and goal, Skinner rolled out and hit Kaleb Taylor in the hands, but he dropped the sure score.

The Rams took over on downs at their own 8 yard line. Quarterback Mark Bunch connected with Miller, and Triston Weiss, as Mineral Ridge was on the move again. Austin Governor carried the ball down near the goal line before Perkins punched it in to make it 20-0.

Mineral Ridge had one more chance to score before the half. With 10 seconds left in the second. Bunch found Weiss for a 26-yard catch down to the 5-yard line. They missed a field goal and led 20-0 at the break.

The Rams were stifled on offense, to begin the second half, after a quarterback sack by Wellington’s Cayden Sherepita. Mineral Ridge punted it away, but Skinner threw an interception to a leaping Royal-Eiland.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Perkins scored from 5 yards out to make it 26-0. Wellington finally got on the board after a 66-yard run by Taylor. Skinner finished it off for the Dukes with a QB sneak. He hit Luke McClellan for the 2-point conversion and the Rams were up 26-8.

The Dukes failed on an onside kick attempt and the Rams took advantage of the short field. Bunch kept it himself and scored from 3 yards out to make the score 33-8. The Rams got the ball back and Bunch had a nice pass to sophomore Mason Miller. Perkins added his fourth touchdown of the night to make it 40-8.

Wellington coach Rob Howells had high praise for Perkins.

“I told the guys to prepare for him like a Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt,” Howells said. “He picks his hole in the line and hits it hard. They have a lot of speed. They’re a great football team.”

Shaner concurred.

“I have a feeling we made some kind of history tonight,” he said. “My hats off to the kids for the way they played.”

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