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Ryan Ritchie shines but injured again in Central win

BurlingtCentral's Ryan Ritchie breaks tackle from Genoa-Kingston's Mike Muntner Friday Burlington. | Sean King~For Sun-Times Media

Burlington Central's Ryan Ritchie breaks a tackle from Genoa-Kingston's Mike Muntner on Friday in Burlington. | Sean King~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 22, 2012 1:34AM

Burlington Central remained tied for first place in the Big Northern East with a 26-14 homecoming win over Genoa-Kingston on Friday night, but the victory may have come with a steep price.

The Rockets starting quarterback, Ryan Ritchie, who had just returned this week from an ankle injury suffered in Week 2, left the game late in the fourth quarter with what sideline medical personnel preliminarily diagnosed as a torn ligament in the thumb of his non-throwing hand.

He will be re-evaluated this week, but if the original diagnosis holds true he would require surgery and be unable to return this season.

If it does turn out to be Ritchie’s last game under center the senior certainly went out with a bang. Ritchie threw three touchdown passes and ran for another while rushing for 106 yards on 16 carries and completing 7-of-12 passes for 84 yards.

“It was so good to be back out there again,” said Ritchie. “It was really tough watching from the sidelines the past two weeks. I’m going to hold out hope (on the thumb injury). But even if I can’t come back at quarterback, I’m going to do everything I can to come back and help the team in some way. I can’t seem to catch a break, but I’m thankful I was at least able to be out there with my teammates for most of homecoming.”

The score was deadlocked 14-14 late in the third quarter when the Rockets (4-1, 3-0) caught a huge break as Tarek Ahmed pulled down an interception on a tipped pass to give Central the ball at the G-K 26-yard line.

Just four plays later Ritchie scrambled in from six yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Rockets up 20-14.

“The interception was a big play,” said Central coach Rich Crabel. “We got some pressure on the quarterback and then our guy was at the right place at the right time. We practice that tip drill all the time, so those are plays we expect to happen.”

Central put the game away on its next possession. A 72-yard run by Reilly Marino (16 rushes, 142 yards) down to the G-K 11-yard line set up a 7-yard touchdown pass three plays later from Ritchie to Carter Muelling to make it 26-14. However, on the ensuing two-point conversion is when the injury to Ritchie’s hand occurred.

“We’ll have to see what the doctors say this week,” said Crabel. “Ryan is a great athlete and a great kid.”

Ritchie had touchdown passes of 25 and 12 yards to Tyler Majewski in the first half.

The Rockets defense held G-K to just 88 yards in the second half.

“We took off some of the hot blitzes and just got down to the basics of what we do,” said Crabel.

Gabe Williams had a 71-yard touchdown for the Cogs (2-3, 2-1) on the opening possession of the game. Eli Thurlby had the other Cogs’ score on an 11-yard run.

“It was a tight game going into that second half,” said G-K coach Travis Fredericks. “But they did a good job of shutting us down. We just couldn’t move the ball.”

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