Maybe the Riverside-Brookfield football team will have better luck in the Metro Suburban Conference.
After Friday’s 34-13 loss to visiting Rich East, the struggling Bulldogs completed the nonconference portion of their schedule with an 0-4 record. In the first couple of weeks, St. Francis and Lemont routed RB with physical play and strong running games, while Gary West Side and Rich East utilized big plays and blazing speed at the skill positions to turn away the Bulldogs.
With Ridgewood up next (Friday, 7:30 p.m.) at Shuey Stadium to open conference play, RB remains confident and obviously desperate for a victory.
“No matter what our record is, we believe we can win conference,” RB quarterback Jack VandeMerkt said. “Compared to the first couple of weeks, our offense settled down (against Rich East). We’re going to stay positive, work hard and get ready for Ridgewood.”
Against Rich East, the Bulldogs fell behind 6-0 on the first play of the second quarter when the Rockets’ Jawaun Ward scored on a 10-yard run. After RB failed to convert a fourth-and-2 from its own 43, Rich East cashed in the favorable field position with a seven-play, 43-yard scoring march as Carleto Jackson scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 6:51 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs responded with a masterful 16-play, 65-yard drive capped off by Kevin Garvey’s clutch three-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-3 situation. Kicker Brian Richter added the PAT to pull RB within 12-7 with 1:06 left until halftime. During the drive, VandeMerkt converted three third-and-long passes to Mitch Malloy (11 yards), Mike Davis (10 yards) and Joe Odeh (19 yards).
The Rockets put up a pair of touchdowns to extend their lead to 26-7 early in the fourth quarter, but RB scored one more time courtesy of a pair of spectacular catches from its talented wide receiving corps. The 6-foot-4 Davis leapt high to snag a 21-yard catch, and on the following play, Malloy also went considerably vertical to complete a 31-yard touchdown pass play from VandeMerkt with 8:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Rich East responded with a touchdown to ice the game at 34-13.
“We played hard but [Rich East] pounded the ball up the field against us,” RB defensive end Brad Bednar said. “We have to get some wins [now]; we’ve worked hard enough where we feel like we deserve that.”