After taking a commanding lead early on homecoming, there was no looking back for the Riverside-Brookfield Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1) cruised past Ridgewood 43-0 and dominated on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs opened their scoring with a five-yard touchdown run by senior running back Luke Gentile with 8:38 left to play in the first quarter. It was the first of two rushing touchdowns for Gentile, as he finished the night with three total (two rushing and one receiving). He rushed for 35 yards on four carries and grabbed four receptions for 42 yards.
Sophomore Matt Novak grabbed an interception from the Rebels on their next drive, his second of the game, and the Bulldogs would take advantage and score on a two-yard run up the middle by senior running back Eduardo Pena. The touchdown put his team up 14-0 with 7:15 left to go in the opening quarter.
“We started the game with two takeaways, and that was one thing we talked about during the course of the week was making sure we get those takeaways,” said RBHS head coach Brendan Curtin. “We did a good job securing the ball and making sure the ball got back to the offense, and that contributes to what you see on the scoreboard.”
The Rebels failed a fourth down conversion on their next drive, and the Bulldogs added to their score once again when they got the ball with a 32-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matthew Torres to Gentile with 4:29 to go in the first quarter.
“It felt nice to get going right away,” Gentile said. “Scoring on our first three drives is nice as a team. We hadn’t come out strong the last two games, so it was nice to see the line coming through to help us get those rushing touchdowns, and it was a great team win.”
Curtin echoed the same sentiment from his senior running back.
“The mission going into this game was starting fast,” Curtin added. “To punch the first three or four drives in and punch in those three touchdowns in the first quarter really set the tone for the rest of the evening. I’m proud of our guys in terms of getting off to that start and the way they were able to execute. The past few games we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit early on, but that didn’t happen tonight.”
Torres went 17-for-26 with 217 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 26 yards on three carries with a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Owen Murphy notched six receptions for 82 yards and Novak nabbed five passes for 82 yards. Senior running back Christopher Doherty had 32 yards on three carries with a touchdown, a three-yard run up the middle with 24 seconds to go in the first quarter.
“It’s really nice to show our versatility,” Gentile said. “Having three different guys rush in for touchdowns was nice to see. We have so many guys that can play different positions.”
Torres ran in a one-yard touchdown up the middle with 10:10 to go in the third to cap off the Bulldogs’ scoring and seal the 43-0 victory.
Getting the victory in a homecoming game is always a special accomplishment, and while this team got into the school spirit surrounding homecoming, their focus all week was making sure to get their fifth win of the season.
“We told them to enjoy the school spirit, that’s part of being a high school football player,” Curtin said. “But at the end of the day, it’s about what we’re doing here on Friday night, and I think they understood that and grasped that concept. I’m proud of them for being able to maintain that focus throughout the course of the week, because sometimes that can be a distraction.”
The Bulldogs’ season has been strong so far, as they look to keep things going with this group that is all in on RBHS’ success.
“We have a lot of guys who have bought into the program,” Gentile said. “From November to now, how far we’ve come, it’s so nice to see the seniors and juniors and underclassmen all buying into this to make this year special.”
The Bulldogs will host St. Francis on Oct. 11 at 7:30 as they look for their sixth win of the season.