Ridge­land rolls past Pep­perell

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

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.

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