It was the first football game of the season, and it looked every bit of it.
Ragged and rugged by turns, it was two teams trying to find a way to win.
When it was over, Timberline established its running game, and River Ridge didn’t, which allowed the Blazers to take a 20-0 non-league win over the Hawks.
“The things that we knew were going to happen happened,” Timberline coach Mullen said. “It’s a first game.”
River Ridge coach Steve Schultz found a silver lining in the opener.
“I’m happy with our defense,” he said. “They showed a lot of pride. But I’ve got to tip my hat to Timberline. Their guys handled us up front.”
As expected, Spencer Crump came out rumbling for Timberline. He carried three times for 43 yards on an eight-play, 58-yard drive capped by Jeff Winstead’s 3-yard touchdown run.
Outside of Crump and Winstead, the actions that most influenced the game in the early going don’t even count as plays. A holding penalty wiped out a 10-yard Crump touchdown run, and later in the half another holding call nullified an 82-yard Crump sprint after grabbing a screen pass from Gabriel Gutierrez.
River Ridge had the opposite problem. Three straight false-start penalties to start the Hawks’ second possession of the game pushed them back to their 2-yard line. An 18-yard run by Brad Wallace got the Hawks out of the shadow of their goal, and a personal-foul penalty on Timberline moved the ball to the 35.
River Ridge’s best possession of the half ended on the next play, when Brandon Wetzel intercepted a Colby Schultz pass.
In the second quarter, several Blazers made offensive plays, none of them named Crump. The senior injured a shoulder and did not return.
McCarthy Tonuao and Winstead contributed 14-yard runs for the Blazers on a deep incursion into Hawks territory that ended on an interception by Chris Leiba on the last play of the half.
A 40-yard punt return by Blazers junior Asan Niel that fell just short of the goal line set up Tonuao’s 2-yard TD run in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Timberline widened its lead behind the power running of Tonuao. He carried five times for 47 yards, including a 20-yarder, to set up another short TD run by Winstead.
“He’s a beast,” Mullen said of Tonuao, and he also praised fellow fullback Winstead: “He put us on his shoulders a little bit in the first half.”