APOLLO — Apollo-Ridge got off to a fast start but ended up playing catch-up to New Brighton in a 35-21 loss in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A football playoffs at Owens Field on Friday night.
Apollo-Ridge (7-4), the seventh seed out of the Allegheny Conference, scored on its second play from scrimmage on Jake Fello’s 75-yard pass to Klay Fitzroy, but the Vikings trailed by three touchdowns in the latter stages of the fourth quarter, and their threat to tie the game was negated when the officials determined an illegal touch on the onside kick they recovered.
New Brighton (8-3), the 10th seed from the Midwestern Conference, responded to Apollo-Ridge’s first touchdown with two before halftime to take a 14-7 lead. Nyasanu Greene scored on a 2-yard run, and Kei’Ondre Abercrombie caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Hall.
The Lions scored twice in the third quarter to take a 28-7 lead. Greene scored again, this time from 3 yards, and Xavier Ryenolds hauled in 23-yard touchdown pass from Hall.
Apollo-Ridge rallied late, scoring on Logan Harmon’s 1-yard run and Fitzroy’s 28-yard pass from Fello to make it 28-21 with under two minutes to go.
On the ensuing onside kick after Fitzroy’s touchdown, he also appeared to recover the ball, but the referee on one side of the field overruled the referee on the other, saying the ball did not travel the required 10 yards before Fitzroy touched it. New Brighton took over at that spot near midfield and scored on Green’s 45-yard run in the last 30 seconds.
Greene finished with a game-high 131 yards on 18 carries. Hall went 17-for-25 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception by Fitzroy. Jacob Francona and Green combined for 10 receptions for 154 yards.
Harmon rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries. Fello was 17-for-28 for 256 yards with two touchdowns. Fitzroy had a game-high seven catches for 156 yards.
Apollo-Ridge loses only five seniors to graduation. Harmon, Fello, Fitzroy and Keighton Reese are among those slated to return from the junior class.