SUMMERVILLE -- Ashley Ridge High School opened its doors in 2008. Four years later, the football program has accomplished the unthinkable.
Ashley Ridge defeated county rival Fort Dorchester, 42-35, on Thursday night to capture the Region 8-AAAA championship and cap an 8-3 regular season. The Swamp Foxes won all four region games.
Ashley Ridge's potent ground attack amassed 477 yards, with junior Romelo Doctor leading the way with 198 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Junior teammate Vernon Moree rushed for 100 yards and two TDs on 10 carries, and also caught four passes for 104 yards and another pair of scores.
Swamp Foxes junior quarterback Jacob Thompson went for 177 yards on the ground on 15 carries, and he completed 7 of 12 passes for 125 yards.
"It's certainly a great moment for our school and our program, and I could not be more proud to be these kids' coach right now," said second-year head coach Kenny Walker. "Last year we won a playoff game and that was a big deal but this is really special. It's something we all should be proud of."
Ashley Ridge's defense came up big as well in the win, sacking Fort Dorchester quarterback Ethan Long six times. Long finished with 337 yards passing, but 125 yards came in the final four minutes after Ashley Ridge had built a 42-22 lead.
The teams combined for more than 500 yards in the first half as Ashley Ridge took a 21-16 lead into intermission.
A 65-yard TD pass from Long to T.J. Smith gave Fort Dorchester its first lead at 22-21 with 6:47 to play in the third quarter, but Ashley Ridge regained the lead on Doctor's 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
A screen pass to Moree turned into a 46-yard touchdown with 7:47 to play, pushing Ashley Ridge to a 35-22 advantage. Moree added a 26-yard run with 4:36 remaining for a 42-22 lead.
Long tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Rodney Gibbs in the final minutes to close the gap to seven points. Gibbs finished with 11 receptions for 110 yards.
"We had a bad night defensively, didn't tackle very well, and they have some kids that can make some plays," said Fort Dorchester head coach Steve LaPrad.
"They just played better than we did, that's all there is to it," he added.
Both teams are in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs next week. Ashley Ridge will be at home, while Fort Dorchester is likely headed for a road game.
"We accomplished one goal, but we're still a long ways from being the program we want to be, so it's back to work on Monday," said Walker.
AR -- Vernon Moree 14 run (Dalton Robinson kick)
FD -- Devron Glenn 10 pass from Ethan Long (Ryan Grainger kick)
AR -- Romelo Doctor 13 run (Robinson kick)
FD -- Charles Loftland 55 run (kick blocked)
AR -- Moree 29 pass from Jacob Thompson (Robinson kick)
FD -- Grainger 33 field goal
FD -- T.J. Smith 65 pass from Long (pass failed)
AR -- Doctor 3 run (pass failed)
AR -- Moree 46 pass from Thompson (Seamus McKinney run)
AR -- Moree 26 run (Robinson kick)
FD -- Rodney Gibbs 3 pass from Long (Grainger kick)
FD -- Gibbs 4 pass from Long (run failed)