Apollo-Ridge QB Jesse Zelonka shines in victory over Riverview
Friday was Senior Night at Owens Field, but it was a junior who stole the show in Apollo-Ridge's 49-13 Eastern Conference win over Riverview.
Junior quarterback Jesse Zelonka accounted for five total touchdowns, completed 6 of 7 passes for 197 yards and added 89 yards on the ground, all in the first half.
“It felt amazing to go out there and play our hearts out for our seniors,” Zelonka said. “It's just a great feeling.”
The win kept the Vikings' playoff hopes intact with one week left in the regular season.
Zelonka started his big night on Apollo-Ridge's first play of the game. After the Vikings (5-3, 5-2) forced Riverview to go three and out, Zelonka hit wide receiver Alex Smith in stride for a 60-yard score to make it 7-0.
Three plays after a Riverview fumble, Zelonka called his own number, taking a quarterback draw for a 26-yard touchdown and giving the Vikings a 14-0 lead.
Riverview's Klayton Hayden responded with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to pull the Raiders to within seven, making it 14-7.
Vikings fullback Ben Gemballa ran in from 5 yards out to make the score 21-7 after the first quarter. Gemballa had two rushing touchdowns.
Zelonka hit sophomore wide receiver Tre Tipton on a 10-yard pass to make the score 28-7.
Riverview wouldn't go away, though. Keir Barber's 3-yard touchdown run made the score 28-13.
But, Zelonka squashed the Raiders' comeback hopes when he ran 11 yards for his second touchdown run of the night to make it 35-13.
Zelonka put the game out of reach when he scrambled right and threw back across his body to Tipton, who made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone with no time left.
Neither team scored in the second.
Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said Friday night was proof of his quarterback's maturation over the season.
“Jesse is just much more relaxed,” he said. “He's able to make all of his reads. He understands it all now.”
Zelonka was in for three plays in the second half.
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.