Duncan, defense boost Ashley Ridge

Ashley Ridge’s Cyrus Clark breaks through the Cane Bay defense for a touchdown during their game Friday.

A year ago, Ashley Ridge’s defense allowed more than 600 yards rushing in a loss to Cane Bay. On Friday night, the Swamp Foxes’ defense was determined not to be the goat.

Leading by a touchdown with Cane Bay knocking on the door to tie the game, Ashley Ridge’s Brandon Brown intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line, securing a 31-24 victory and helping the Swamp Foxes improve to 6-0 on the season.

Cane Bay (3-3) still managed to pile up 423 yards, including 299 yards on the ground, but Ashley Ridge had an offensive answer of its own — senior quarterback Steven Duncan. The best senior quarterback in the area completed 27 of 38 passes for 319 yards in the win.

“Sometimes, things aren’t always pretty, but this team finds a way to win,” Ashley Ridge head coach Kenny Walker said. “I wish we were a little better at putting teams away but hey, we’re 6-0, and I can’t complain too much.

“Our defense, we gave up some big plays, but Cane Bay’s offense is really good. They’re a really good, solid football team. But our guys hung in there and made a play there at the end. I’m real proud of the entire team.”

Cane Bay running back Keenan Simpson finished with 124 yards rushing while R.J. Roderick had 124 yards passing but lost two fumbles in addition to the interception.

After holding Cane Bay on a fourth-and-inches at Cane Bay’s 45-yard line, Ashley Ridge needed only six plays to take the early lead as Cyrus Clark rambled in from 23 yards with 7:17 left in the first quarter. Clark finished with three scores.

The Cobras answered with 10-play, 80-yard drive, tying the game at seven on Tyler Farr’s 3-yard plunge. Sophomore Kris Copeland, who finished with 121 yards receiving and 80 yards rushing, set up the score with a 44-yard run, followed by an 18-yard run.

Cane Bay’s defense came up with a stop on fourth and short later in the quarter and the offense responded with a drive to the Ashley Ridge 5-yard line. Cane Bay had a touchdown run by Copeland negated by penalty and settled for a Phillip Jackson 25-yard field goal with 9:53 remaining in the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead.

Duncan got hot two drives later, completing six consecutive passes to lead the Swamp Foxes to a touchdown drive — connecting with DeAnthony Crockett on a 4-yard pass with 2:28 to play in the half for a 14-10 lead.

Just before the break, Cane Bay struck through the air as sophomore quarterback R.J. Roderick found a wide open Copeland down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Jackson’s extra point gave the Cobras a 17-14 halftime advantage.

Russell Montgomery returned the second half kickoff 72 yards, and a horse collar penalty gave the Swamp Foxes a first-and-goal at the Cane Bay 10. Montgomery also had a 60-yard kick return earlier in the game.

The Cobras held defensively, however, and Ashley Ridge came away empty after Brandon Payne missed a 30-yard field goal with 10:46 remaining in the third quarter.

The Swamp Foxes found pay dirt on their next possession, driving 69 yards with Clark scoring on a two-yard run with 4:33 remaining, giving Ashley Ridge a 21-17 lead.

Two plays later, however, Roderick and Copeland connected on a 56-yard scoring pass, pushing the Cobras back up, 24-21.

Clark capped a 76-yard drive with a one-yard dive, giving the Swamp Foxes a 28-24 lead with 10:58 to play in the game. Duncan was eight of 11 for 78 yards on the drive.

The Swamp Foxes forced a Roderick fumble on Cane Bay’s second offensive snap, recovering the loose ball at the Cobras’ 19-yard line. Ashley Ridge settled for Payne’s 25-yard field goal, taking a 31-24 lead with 8:25 to play in the game.

Cane Bay took its next possession inside the Ashley Ridge 10-yard line with a first-and-goal at the seven, but Brown ended the drive with his interception.