Running back Eric Owens, right, who rushed for 98 yards and both Interboro touchdowns, fights off a tackle attempt by Ridley’s Mike Cropper Thursday.
Running back Eric Owens, right, who rushed for 98 yards and both Interboro touchdowns, fights off a tackle attempt by Ridley's Mike Cropper Thursday. (Julia Wilkinson)

RIDLEY TWP. — Interboro lineman Miguel Quinones couldn't hold back the tears and didn't know what to say.

He was overwhelmed with emotion. Thursday's game against Ridley was his final one in a Bucs uniform, but he was overjoyed by the outcome.

Quinones played a big part in the Bucs' 12-0 victory at Phil Marion Field. Interboro's defense was the best it's been all season, and Quinones was in the middle of the havoc. The 6-1, 210-pounder caused trouble in the backfield, picking up a sack, a fumble recovery, and several tackles and quarterback hurries to help lead the Bucs to the shutout.

"I couldn't ask to go out and different than this,' Quinones said. "I never played a game like this in my life. Going home like this is way better than last year, when we lost to Archbishop Wood (in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals). I hated to go out with a loss, I'd much rather go out like this, feeling pretty good.'

The victory was the Bucs' 12th in the Thanksgiving Day series with the Green Raiders. The Bucs blanked the Green Raiders in the last two meetings at Phil Marion Field.

After the game, Interboro coach Steve Lennox, who has 11 of those wins, commended his players on a job well-done.

Oh, they did a good job all right.

In the first half, Interboro's defense held Ridley's spread offense attack to zero yards. For the game, the Green Raiders mustered only 51 yards of total offense. Led by Quinones, fellow linemen John Bellano (one sack), Eric Owens, Matt Simmons and Matt Gould (one sack), as well as linebacker Sean Menold and defensive back Mike Ochuda (one sack), the Bucs held the Green Raiders to four yards rushing on 30 carries. The final output had plenty to do with a series of plays that resulted in negative yardage. The Bucs forced three fumbles, while Ridley's senior quarterback, Collin Wright, completed only four of 10 passing attempts for 47 yards.

The Bucs had nearly three weeks to prepare, after losing to Academy Park in the first round of the District One playoffs. The Bucs made the most of the extended layoff and studied plenty of film on the Green Raiders.

"We watched a lot of their game against Garnet Valley,' Bellano said. "Our coaches were telling us what they call to stem around ... confuse the line. So, I thought we did a good job of confusing them a little bit. They weren't expecting us to stem around. They were expecting us to come out with our normal defense, and that helped us a lot. That helped free up Eric, myself, Matt Gould and Miguel, freeing us up to get a sack a few times, which really helped.'

Interboro’s Mark Everton, left, tries to avoid a tackle by Ridley’s Christian Dunn during the teams’ Thanksgiving Day game Thursday.
Interboro's Mark Everton, left, tries to avoid a tackle by Ridley's Christian Dunn during the teams' Thanksgiving Day game Thursday. Everton and the Bucs claimed a 12-0 victory. (Julia Wilkinson)

Interboro forced Ridley to punt six times, as the Green Raiders failed to get the ball beyond the Interboro 48-yard line. Ridley had a second-and-8 on the Bucs' 48 early in the fourth quarter, but a botched snap was recovered by Quinones, effectively ending the Green Raiders' intentions of mounting a comeback.

Owens, who took over as the team's No. 1 running back late in the season, was a mad man on both sides of the ball. He rushed for both Interboro touchdowns, a 3-yard burst in the first quarter and a 1-yard jaunt on his team's opening drive of the second half.

The senior rumbled for 95 yards on 38 carries and finished the year with 823 yards and 13 touchdowns. Owens knew he had to be better, and took advice from his coaches to heart.

"Running north and south, lifting hard, eating right and listening to my coaches,' said Owens, who weighs about 220 pounds of muscle. "Coach (Victor) Buono took me from nothing to everything. Coach Buono was a big help for me, and all of my teammates. Sonny (Armstrong) helped me out. But Coach B, it's a real credit to him.'

It's appropriate that Owens gave a shout out to Armstrong, the Bucs' leader, who suffered a season-ending injury last month. Armstrong acted like an extra coach on the Interboro sideline Thursday morning, cheering on and instructing his teammates.

Owens was a sophomore the last time Ridley and Interboro played in 2011. The Green Raiders embarrassed the Bucs at South Avenue Athletic Complex, 42-6.

"Beating Ridley is a pride thing,' he said. "There was tension in the game, but words are words. They're a distraction. At the end of the day, we won. Me and No. 33 (linebacker Lou Harrison) were meeting in the middle a couple times, going back and forth. Much respect to him and their team. Ridley is a good team.'

But 2013 proved to be a disappointment on Morton Avenue. The Green Raiders failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time under fifth-year coach Dennis Decker, who was denied his 50th career win. Prior to Thursday, the Green Raiders had gone 28 days without playing a game. They ended the season on a two-game losing streak.

Owens appeared to have lost a fumble one play before finding the end zone in the third quarter. Though the Green Raiders (6-5) clearly recovered the loose ball, the officials blew the play dead. That enabled Owens to have a second chance, and this time he dove from a yard out to give the Bucs (5-5) a 12-0 advantage.

Ridley's leading running back, Malcolm Strand-Young, was held to 43 yards on 13 carries.

"We had a great game on defense,' Owens said. "We felt that we were ready for them and we really wanted to get this win.'

Mission accomplished.