Ringgold outlasts Sonoraville Generals dominate Gilmer to move to 5-0 for first time ever
For the second straight week, an important payback win was in the hands of the Ringgold Tigers, if only they could control the clock one last time.
Host Sonoraville, needing a late score to pull ahead, instead was forced to punt to the Tigers with just under three minutes to play. With Ty Jones carrying the ball – and carrying the game on his shoulders – the Tigers were able to burn the final 2:58 (and all three Sonoraville timeouts) on a nine play keepaway drive to nail down a 31-28 victory over the Phoenix and end a three-game losing streak to their 7-AAA rival.
Jones gained 100 yards for the third straight week and scored on a 9-yard run late in the first half as the Tigers (3-2) had to overcome a potentially disastrous first-play turnover for the second straight week.
“We never got down on ourselves,” Ringgold coach Robert Akins said afterwards. “But I am concerned about starting games this way. One of these days that’s going to catch up with us.”
But the everimproving Ringgold defense held firm after quarterback Cole Kibler engineered a drive for the go-ahead touchdown – a precision 6-yard strike to tight end Drake Starks with 4:52 to play. Sonoraville quarterback Patrick Moore, who had a sensational night, was sacked for a sixyard loss by linebacker Dalton Green and then was flagged for intentional grounding under severe duress on third down.
Punting was the only recourse.
Jones carried the ball five times on the clinching drive, but the play that nailed it down was a third down throw from Kibler to Andre Tarver on the sideline that was completed by the tiniest of margins of having a toe come down in bounds. The 10-yard completion was Tarver’s sixth catch of the night. The talented junior also scored on a 10-yard run, his fourth rushing TD of the season.
“I have no idea how he caught that ball,” Akins said of Tarver’s clutch catch. “We knew if we completed that, the game over. But I thought there was no way he could catch that ball and stay in bounds.”
But it was an uphill struggle part of the night.
A bobbled handoff exchange between Jones and Kibler on the first play from scrimmage was recovered by the Phoenix on the Ringgold 25. On just the second play of the drive, quarterback Moore slipped downfield on a 17-yard keeper for the gift-wrapped score.
But unlike last week, which saw Ringgold go down 21-0 to Adairsville before regrouping, the Tigers had an immediate answer. One play after a personal foul kept the Tigers’ drive alive on third down, Kibler went up top to sophomore wideout Pete Brower. Coming back on the ball, Brower danced by his fallen defender for a 38-yard touchdown.
Moore had an answer for the answer, scoring on a 65-yard keeper just three plays into the next Phoenix drive.
But the second quarter belonged to Ringgold. Trailing 14-7, three big plays by Jones, fill-in back Bryton McCann and Tarver generated the tying touchdowns.
Then later in the period, a long (85 yards), flawless, 11-play drive was capped by Jones’ powerful scoring run. Garrett Davis converted each extra point.
But Moore, who single-handedly compiled 284 yards of offense Friday, made the opening drive of the third quarter count on an 11-play drive that ate up half the third quarter. Moore
The Heritage Generals are now 5-0 for the first time in school history.
The Navy-and-Red scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, added five more in the second quarter and cruised from there, beating winless Gilmer, 49-0, in Ellijay.
Quarterback Blake Bryan threw three TD passes, two to Luke Grant and one to Ryan Carter, while he also ran for two scores. Bryan finished with 82 yards in the air on 6-of-8 passing, while Nick Hanson was 3-of-5 for 61 yards.
Grant picked up 137 yards on just six catches. Carter scored on a 5-yard TD toss, while Jeffery Curtis added 58 yards rushing a touchdown on the ground. Bryan also ran seven times for 32 yards. Kicker Ryan Craft was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra point attempts.
Zach Goins scored a touchdown on one of three fumble recoveries for the Heritage defense, which dominated play in the Region 6-AAAA opener for both squads.
Zaine Burton had nine tackles, eight of the solo variety, and had two go for a loss. Curtis had five tackles, while linebacker Hank Weldon had two tackles for loss, including a sack.
Heritage (5-0, 1-0) will play host another 6-AAAA unbeaten in Southeast (5-0, 1-0) this Friday at Jeff Sims Field.
Cade Nayadley crunches Sonoraville quarterback Patrick Moore during Friday night’s game. The Tigers picked up a big 31-28 victory in the Region 6-AAA crossover contest. (Photo by Courtney Couey/Ringgold Tiger Shots)