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Apollo-Ridge routs Riverview, setting up showdown with West Shamokin

| Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge's Jesse Zelonka comes up just short of a touchdown as he steps out of bounds before diving for the end zone in the first half against Riverview on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at Riverside Park in Oakmont.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Riverview's Keir Barber (3) runs past Apollo-Ridge's Jonah Cosella (35) on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at Riverside Park in Oakmont.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Riverview's Nassan Tibbens (5) is tackled by Apollo-Ridge's Kyle Nothnagel (71) on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at Riverside Park in Oakmont.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge's Alex Smith (right) catches a touchdown pass in front of Riverview's Tlyer Nigro (7) and Keir Barber (3) on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at Riverside Park in Oakmont.

Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka had a busy day Saturday.

The senior ran for 236 yards and passed for 111 yards as the Vikings took the measure of Riverview, 41-16, in an Eastern Conference game at Riverside Park.

Among the highlights for Zelonka was a 92-yard run from scrimmage and a 64-yard scoring strike to Alex Smith.

The Vikings victory sets up a showdown for third place Friday at Owens Field against West Shamokin.

Apollo-Ridge (6-2, 5-2) is rated ninth in the current Trib Total Media Class A poll.

Riverview fell to 1-7, 1-6.

The all-time series between the two schools is tied at 8-8.

Dom Schrecengost recovered a muffed opening kickoff for the Vikings at the Riverview 30, but the Raiders held.

On the following possession, Zelonka dove into the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but the officials ruled him out of bounds at the Riverview 3, setting up a run for Ben Gembella on the following play.

The Raiders drove deep into Apollo-Ridge territory, but on fourth down, lineman Joe Brown caught a short pass, but an ineligible receiver penalty gave Apollo-Ridge possession at its 8.

On the first play from scrimmage, Zelonka found an opening on the right side and raced 92 yards for a touchdown.

Late in the second period, Zelonka found Smith open on a fly pattern left for a 64-yard scoring play that put the Vikings in front, 21-0, as Apollo-Ridge continued its quest to finish the regular season on a high note.

“If anything, we want to gain momentum,” Zelonka said. “Playoffs are coming and we have a big game against West Shamokin who we're tied with in the conference right now.”

Riverview's Jake Massack recovered an Apollo-Ridge fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The Raiders drove 42 yards in seven plays, with Tyler Nigro hauling in a 24-yard pass from Zach Hanus to put Riverview on the scoreboard.

“We moved the ball well, offensively, and made some great plays, defensively,” said Raiders coach Todd Massack. “We just can't string enough of them together. That's kind of been the story of our season.”

Another Vikings fumble, this one recovered by Jake Paradise, halted an Apollo-Ridge drive. But Riverview couldn't capitalize.

Gembella, Lonny Wells and freshman Duane Brown all ran for touchdowns on the next three Vikings possessions to put the game away.

“This was a little sloppy to begin with,” said Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba. “We've played opponents where their records weren't great and it's tough getting the kids to focus. Then we have four turnovers today, which was absolutely inexcusable by us.”

Riverview's Keir Barber, who carried the ball 36 times for 144 yards, concluded the scoring with a nine-yard run with 10 seconds left in the game.

“I think we wanted it, we moved the ball, but we couldn't finish,” Barber said. “We'd take some bad penalties and let a few plays get away from us.”

Apollo-Ridge collected 466 offensive yards.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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