That football is a game of inches may be a pretty tired cliché, but a couple of close calls assumed huge roles in Ridgewood’s 25-20 win over Riverside Brookfield on Friday.

Trailing the host Rebels 25-20 with less than five minutes to play, the Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-8 at the Ridgewood 28. Riverside-Brookfield quarterback Dylan Beketic rolled out and threw a strike to wide receiver Alex Huffhines, who juggled the ball before securing it unfortunately a step out of bounds. The Bulldogs’ decision to go for it was influenced by an earlier play when Nick Callahan apparently scored on a 2-point attempt but was ruled just outside the end zone.

“Towards the end of the game, being down three points instead of five makes a difference,” RB coach Jason Rech said. “[Ridgewood coach] Chris Zack does a great job with his program, but we beat ourselves. We are not disciplined enough.”

While the Bulldogs’ rally, which featured 20 unanswered points, was admirable, assorted miscues including a pair of drive-killing fumbles and a rash of turnovers put RB in a 19-0 hole. Ridgewood star P.J. O’Connor (20 carries, 210 yards) put the Bulldogs on their heels the opening play of the game by returning a kick 90 yards. On the next play, quarterback Joe Jacobsen threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Adam Kutylowski to give Ridgewood a 7-0 lead. The Rebels scored again on Jacobsen’s 13-yard slant pass to Eduardo Benitez. O’Connor capped off the Rebels’ first-half surge on a 13-yard touchdown run, making the score 19-0.

Beketic fired a 32-yard touchdown pass to Joe Odeh (2 catches, 86 yards) to pull RB closer at 19-6 with 31 seconds left in the first half. Callahan’s controversial, failed 2-point attempt occurred on the next play.

Riverside-Brookfield (1-4, 0-1 Metro Sub Conference) held the momentum for much of the second half led by the strong running of Callahan (19 carries, 142 yards), Tyler Floros (21 carries, 115 yards) and Andy Suzuki. Floros scored on a 12-yard run to pull RB within 19-13 at the 3:18 mark of the third quarter. RB took the lead at 20-19 after Beketic scampered 15 yards into the end zone to end the period.

But O’Connor raced 46 yards for a touchdown, putting the Rebels (2-3, 2-0) up for good at 25-20 with 10:26 left in the game. 

Callahan (8 tackles) and Justin Agne (6 tackles) led RB defensively.

“We’re our own worst enemy,” said RB offensive lineman Chris Duplancich. “Our O-line was getting a good push and our running backs were running hard, but stupid penalties and fumbles really hurt us.”

Riverside-Brookfield hosts Glenbard South on Friday at 7 p.m.

Metro Suburban Conference standings

  • Glenbard South      1-0  2-3
  • Ridgewood              1-0  2-3
  • Fenton                       0-0  5-0
  • Elmwood Park         0-1  2-3
  • RB                              0-1  1-4