NEW PORT RICHEY – Defense reigned supreme Friday night at River Ridge, as the Royal Knights dropped Fivay 13-0 in both teams’ long-awaited season openers.

Sophomore Julius Quinones snagged two of the Royal Knights’ four interceptions and a trio of goal line stands allowed the hosts to keep Fivay off the board. It’s the second year in a row River Ridge began its season with a shutout victory, beating Crystal River 25-0 last August.

All the night’s scoring took place in the decisive second quarter. Junior quarterback Trenton Hawks lit the scoreboard first with a 13-yard run, faking a handoff and then taking off around the left side. The run capped a lengthy, 99-yard drive that began with the River Ridge defense dug in and stuffed Fivay on fourth-and-goal at the 1.

The Falcons pushed inside the Royal Knights 5 against late in the second after blocking a punt and recovering possession at the River Ridge 18. Coach Ryan Benjamin’s defense answered the bell again, but a quick possession gave Fivay the ball right back inside River Ridge territory with 1:21 remaining in the half.

Turns out, all that did was set up the Royal Knights’ second and final touchdown.

Senior Bret Clouse picked off Shane Hagen’s pass attempt and returned it all the way to the Fivay 9-yard line. Senior Brendan Moffett punched through the middle of the line a couple plays later to put River Ridge on top, 13-0.

Benjamin needed his defense to bail the team out one last time in the fourth quarter. Fivay junior Nick Monfre picked off Hawks and ran it back inside the River Ridge 5-yard line once again. And, once again, the Royal Knights defense held.

River Ridge hosts Tarpon Springs next week and will try to start the year 2-0 for the first time since 2015, when the Royal Knights won their first nine games.

Fivay gets its home opener next week against in-town rival Hudson High. The Falcons have won the last two head-to-head matchups.


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