Engaged in a defensive battle with host Ridgewood, the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team scratched out two touchdowns over the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter to earn a gritty 14-3 conference crossover win over Ridgewood Sept. 28.

The RBHS defense triggered the rally by denying the Rebels on a fourth down-and-one at the Bulldogs’ 2-yard line. On the ensuing possession, RBHS went on an 11-play, 98-yard scoring drive, capped off by freshman quarterback Owen Murphy’s 1-yard sneak into the end zone. Samuel Halwaji kicked the extra point to give the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead.

The defense came up big again when Dominick Rowe picked off a pass at the Ridgewood 37. Eight plays later, Luke Gentile scored on a sweep run for nine yards. Halwaji added the point after to make the score 14-3.

“Our defense continues to impress me and play really excellent football,” RBHS coach Brendan Curtin said. “Ridgewood took the opening drive into our territory and had some opportunities, but we held them to a field goal. They had the ball again late in the fourth quarter and were sniffing a touchdown. but our defense held strong and kept them out of the end zone.”

Rowe (8 tackles, interception) and Connor Pitts (team-high 9 tackles, fumble recovery) led the Bulldogs’ performance defensively.

On offense, the Bulldogs moved the ball via multiple contributors. Murphy (7-for-12, 73 yards) and fellow quarterback Dario Marchica (6-for-9, 56 yards) both saw playing time behind center.

Gentile led the ground game with 43 yards on 10 carries and Chris Doherty had 31 yards on nine runs. Daniel Hilliyer (3 catches, 41 yards), Joseph Shelven (2 catches, 36 yards) and Elliot Royer (2 catches, 25 yards) led the receiving corps.

“It took our offense a little while to get things going but nobody panicked,” Curtin said. “Our run game was by committee and we were able to pass the ball around with multiple quarterbacks and receivers.”

RBHS tallied 129 yards passing and 85 yards rushing highlighted by two touchdowns. Ridgewood had 279 yards of total offense, but managed just one field goal in the first half.

“I think the boys are starting to mature and develop a better a grasp of our philosophies on offense, defense and special teams,” Curtin said. “We’re becoming a smarter football team, which means we are not continuing to make the same mistakes twice. That’s been a point of focus for us.”

The Bulldogs (2-4, 0-3 Metro Suburban Blue) take on host St. Francis (5-1, 2-1) Friday, Oct. 5 in Wheaton. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.