Steve Schultz and River Ridge spend a lot of time working on special teams plays.
It paid off Friday night at Orting, as the Hawks hammered the Cardinals, 35-14.
“That’s part of our daily drills, is we work on our special teams … it’s a momentum play, we load up for that,” Schultz said.
Neither team could gain much ground early, but that changed in the second quarter when Kelle Sanders blocked a punt attempt on Orting’s second possession.
Dillon Johnson snagged a high snap and scrambled to get the punt off, but Sanders got a hand on it anyway and the ball bounced out of bounds at Orting’s 1-yard line.
“I got through and just had to make a play,” Sanders said. “My coach was telling me, just jump up, cover your neck, and jump as high as you can and block it.”
Kobe Key ran seven yards into the end zone to give the Hawks a 6-0 advantage — a lead they would never give up.
“The next thing we know, we’re down,” Orting coach Marty Parkhurst said. “Our guys tried to respond but just couldn’t get it back.”
On Orting’s following drive, the Hawks forced another punt situation.
Johnson’s punt wasn’t blocked this time. Instead, Alex Coleman returned it for a 73-yard touchdown. Key passed to Brayden Anderson to complete the two-point conversion, giving the Hawks a 14-0 lead they carried into the half.
River Ridge came right back to score on its first possession in the second half on a 2-yard run by Key that capped a 67-yard drive. Key threw another touchdown on a 6-yard pass in the fourth to Padric Green.
Key was 5 of 9 for 59 yards passing, and added another 34 yards on five carries. He rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one.
Gustavo Diaz added River Ridge’s final touchdown on a 38-yard run in the fourth. He picked up 170 yards on 32 carries and was 3 for 4 on extra-point attempts.
“Over time I think their size wore us down,” Parkhurst said.
Orting scored both of its touchdowns in the second half. The first came on a 35-yard pass from Gavin Vradenburg to Kevin Bodle to make it 21-7.
Vradenburg finished 8 of 15 for 150 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked five times by the Hawks defense.
“When you’re coming hard off of that edge and one guy misses a block, you’re on the top of the quarterback right away,” Schultz said.
Orting scored the games final touchdown with 3 minutes, 13 seconds to play on a 68-yard pass from Vradenburg to Jon Wilkinson.
The Hawks (4-0) host White River next Friday at 7 p.m., while the Cardinals (3-1) travel to Franklin Pierce.
Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473