On a night when Windermere High School celebrated its first homecoming, the Wolverines did what it could on the field to help capture the moment.
Windermere entered its Class 8A, District 5 game against East Ridge on Friday, Oct. 11, having scored a total of 12 points in previous contests against Olympia, Timber Creek and Dr. Phillips. The Wolverines easily improved upon that mark but, in the end, it was East Ridge’s big-play offense that sparked the Knights to a 44-19 victory at Deputy Scott Pine Community Park.
The injury-plagued Wolverines moved to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in district play, while East Ridge (4-3, 1-2) stopped a three-game slide and won for the first time since Sept. 13.
Windermere lost a fumble on its first offensive play and East Ridge’s Jalen Numan recovered at the Wolverines’ 6-yard line. That led to junior quarterback Robbie Sanders’ 3-yard touchdown run at the 8:49 mark of the opening quarter, but the Knights came up short on a two-point run after Windermere was penalized on the initial extra-point attempt.
East Ridge quickly made it 14-0 when – after stopping the Wolverines on fourth down near midfield – Sanders passed to Tyler Azcano in the end zone for a 12-yard score. Sanders then ran in the two-point conversion with 6:04 left in the first quarter.
Windermere closed within 14-6 before the quarter’s end as an East Ridge pass interference penalty kept a drive alive. Junior quarterback Cody Arnold eventually found Dominic Sanzone open in the end zone for an 8-yard TD pass, but the extra point was missed at the 1:11 mark.
The score stayed that way until late in the second quarter when Knights running back Cordell Saunders turned in one of the game’s biggest plays – an 80-yard touchdown run. Sanders added another two-point run as East Ridge went ahead 22-6 with 4:25 remaining before halftime.
David Diaz later recovered a fumble for Windermere – right after Jaden Ortiz had intercepted a pass for East Ridge – that gave the Wolverines possession at the Knights’ 30-yard line. The drive stalled, but Gabriel Bertolazzo drilled a 47-yard field goal to make it 22-9 with 49 seconds to go in the second quarter.
However, East Ridge drove the field and reached the Windermere 17-yard line with five seconds left and Eddy Retana converted a 34-yard field goal as time expired.
Christian Mercado’s punt block deep in East Ridge territory led to Bertolazzo’s 32-yard field goal with 6:50 left in the third quarter, bringing Windermere within 25-12. But the Knights marched 54 yards on the ensuing drive as Kenny Bright scored on a 12-yard run and Retana’s extra point upped East Ridge’s lead to 31-12.
East Ridge later faced a fourth-and-13 at the Windermere 41 – shortly after Tyshon Tunnell’s fumble recovery for the Knights – and Sanders connected with Jack Crumblish deep down the right sideline for a touchdown with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Amer Amer’s 31-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Bertolazzo’s extra point brought the Wolverines within 38-19 with 7:38 remaining, but a 27-yard completion to Crumblish set up Sanders’ 7-yard TD run with just over five minutes left.
Windermere returns to the field Thursday, Oct. 17, at Oak Ridge.