Cedar Ridge grinds out victory over Round Rock in district opener

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Photo by Avery Warren

Joshua Nazaire (12) runs for a touchdown in Friday night’s victory over Round Rock.

Luke White, Sports Editor

The Cedar Ridge-Round Rock rivalry never fails to bring the excitement on the football field, and Friday’s matchup was no exception as the Raiders (1-1, 1-0) took down the Dragons (1-1, 0-1) in a 20-18 nail-biting victory at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
Still reeling from a 28-14 loss to District 11-5A powerhouse Cedar Park last week, Cedar Ridge fought off a Round Rock comeback in the final minutes of the game to secure the victory. The Dragons scored 10 unanswered points in the second half, but fell just short of the come-from-behind victory.
Comebacks have already become a theme of the Dragons’ season thus far, as a blocked field goal as time expired helped them survive a 19-point comeback from Belton last week to preserve a 35-33 victory.
Safety Justin Higginbotham (12) starred for the Raider defense by intercepting two passes for arguably the best game of his varsity career. The Cedar Ridge defense stepped up when it needed to, the most notable stop being when Round Rock faced 4th-and-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Cornerback Isaiah Horne (12) brought down Dragon quarterback Seth Ford short of the first down to seal the Raider victory.
The Cedar Ridge defense made another crucial stop just before halftime with Round Rock at the Raiders’ two-yard line. Defensive lineman Dominick Bolden (11) jarred the football loose out of the hands of Dragon running back Israel Morgan. Cedar Ridge recovered the fumble and was able to wind down the clock before halftime.
Raider quarterback Joaquin Sandoval (12) was solid the entire game with 125 passing yards and two touchdown passes to tight end Matthew Brooks (11) and wide receiver D.J. Rountree (12). Cedar Ridge’s final score came in the second quarter when running back Josh Nazaire (12) dashed 70 yards to the end zone to make the score 20-8 at halftime.
The Dragons trimmed the lead down to two following a short scamper to the end zone by Ford and a field goal by kicker Collin Harwick. Despite the Cedar Ridge offense fizzling out in the second half, the defense grinded out a quality win for the Raiders.
The district slate doesn’t get any easier, as Cedar Ridge takes on Vandegrift, Vista Ridge, and Hutto in the coming weeks.
Cedar Ridge takes on the Anderson Trojans next Friday in what was originally going to be a rivalry matchup with Stony Point. However, the Tigers have been forced to quarantine for two weeks due to Covid-19. The game will be played at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex at 7 p.m.