Ridgeland rolls past Pepperell
The Ridgeland Panthers got three short touchdown runs from senior running back Jalyn Shelton as they rolled up a 35-point advantage after three quarters and cruised to a 35-7 win over visiting Pepperell Friday night at Bowers and Painter Field.
Both teams were state-ranked in their respective classifications - Ridgeland in Class AAAA and Pepperell in Class AA - and most were expecting a tight battle. Last year’s contest, the first-ever meeting between the two schools, was delayed and eventually cancelled due to excessive lightning before the first quarter ended.
Shelton scored on a first-quarter run and the Panthers (2-0) would add three scores in the second quarter to build a 28-0 halftime lead. Desmond Johnson scored on a 25-yard highlight-reel run and quarterback Tanner Hill found Stephon Walker for a 22-yard touchdown pass before Shelton added his second TD run of the quarter.
An eight-plusminute drive to start the third culminated in Ridgeland’s final points of the night on Shelton’s final scoring run, while kicker Conner Middleton finished up a 5-for-5 performance on extra points.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock, but the Dragons (0-1) were able to avoid the shutout with a late 44-yard TD pass from Trevor Thomas to Connor Chandler.
The Ridgeland defense gave up just 35 yards and three first downs in the opening half and allowed just 135 yards total for the game. Over half of those yards came on two late pass plays with the outcome well in hand. Pepperell finished with just 19 carries for 19 yards.
The Panthers finished with 333 yards, 235 on the ground, led by 87 yards on 25 carries by Shelton, the Navy commitment. Hill was 5-of-11 in the air for 98 yards, while Walker hauled in four passes for 84 yards and rushed once for 19 more.
On defense, Jordan Hughley recorded his first interception of the year.
Ridgeland will face another small school stalwart in Darlington next Friday night in Rome.
The Tigers led 21-20 in the fourth quarter last year in Rossville before Ridgeland stormed back to win, 40-28.