Ringgold rolls, eyes at-large playoff spot
Finding out that their playoff hopes were not completely dashed last week, the Ringgold Tigers came out Friday like a team with something to play for.
Putting together their most complete performance since their Week 2 shutout of Heritage, the Tigers dominated their neighbors from Adairsville from start to finish in a 31-10 Homecoming win at Don Patterson Field.
Led by Andre Tarver’s best outing since his conversion to running back, the host Tigers (4-5 overall, 3-4 in Region 6-AAA) remained atop a GHSA/MAXPreps power ranking list of the best Class AAA teams not already assured of a playoff spot.
The spot in question is one that would be reserved for the fourth-place team in Region 1-AAA, but that four-team region has only three teams with a passable record. The GHSA ruled that fourteam regions would have just three automatic state berths and that the aforementioned power ranking system would be used to determine the one spot in the Class AAA playoffs reserved for an “at-large” team.
But with the at-large spot opened to essentially the entire state, the Tigers can only aim to keep winning their regular season finale this Friday against visiting Coahulla Creek and wait and see what the power rankings reveal.
With a new set of goals before them, head coach Robert Akins’ Tigers responded with a newly-invigorated running game. Both Tarver and Dalton Green scored a pair of touchdowns with Tarver becoming the first Ringgold back to enjoy a 100-yard rushing game this season. But it was much more than that as Tarver gained 185 yards on 20 carries.
“The best game our offensive line has had, no question,” Akins said later, noting Ringgold’s 244 yards on the ground. “I want all five of those guys to get credit.”
The best part of the equation, that Akins didn’t mention, is that all-star center Reid Williams, along with Scott Clinton, Logan Pavlik, James Booth and 6-foot-8, 310-pound Will House are returning next season.
The night started with a stumble, however.
Ringgold’s opening drive reached the Adairsville 3-yard line before a penalty forced them to attempt a short field goal, which was missed.
However, the Ringgold defense was equal to the task. Both Michael Toney and Malachi Parker made stops for losses and Blue-and-white would quickly get the ball back in Adairsville territory. This time, they would not be denied as Green skirted the end for a 20-yard score on the first play of the second half.
Talented senior quarterback Mason Boswell, playing what would wind up being his final game for Adairsville, drove his team back, but Adairsville also missed a field goal try and the home team took advantage. Cole Kibler connected on his only touchdown pass of the day, an 11-yarder to Jared Dunn, which would allow Kibler to move into 33rd place on Georgia’s all-time list.
With two more this season, Kibler would move into the top 30 in passing touchdowns.
But this night, Ringgold was all about grinding out the yardage.
After a strong Boswell-led drive led Adairsville to a score and a 12-10 deficit on the first drive of the second half, the visitors tried an onside kick that failed to go 10 yards. Ringgold took over and answered in less than two minutes. It took them only three plays to go 63 yards – thanks in part to a pass interference penalty – with Tarver going the final 36 yards in a burst.
After being pinned back at its own 10 by a good punt, Ringgold drove 90 yards for a vital insurance touchdown. Again it was Tarver, who broke loose for a well-convoyed 40-yard run.
Green would add the Tigers’ final touchdown in the fourth quarter, going in untouched from 16 yards out. Green, who had only one carry and no yards rushing last week, gained 47 yards on just five carries.
Kibler threw for only 140 yards, hitting 9-of-15 passes, while Dunn was his top target.
Fatima Musa, a member of the Ringgold Tiger Band, was named Homecoming Queen for 2018 at halftime.
Garrison Rhudy sacks Adairsville quarterback MasonBoswell during the Tigers’ 31-10 home victory at Don PattersonField onFriday.