Bruin up a blowout: Ridge­land pul­ver­izes North­west

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Chris Whit­field

North­west Whit­field made a state­ment with its first drive of the game, go­ing 80 yards in just four plays.

Ridge­land made sure the Bru­ins had very lit­tle to say af­ter that.

In the Re­gion 6-AAAA opener for both teams, Ridge­land - ranked No. 4 in the re­cent Ge­or­gia Sports Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion poll - dom­i­nated both lines of scrim­mage, took away North­west’s pass­ing at­tack with blan­ket man-to-man cov­er­age and seem­ingly scored at will in dom­i­nat­ing fash­ion.

Run­ning back Ja­lyn Shel­ton had three touch­downs and Ridge­land’s de­fense shut out the Bru­ins af­ter the open­ing drive for a 48-7 vic­tory at Bru­ins Sta­dium.

Af­ter both teams scored on their open­ing pos­ses­sions, it looked as if the fans who packed into the sta­dium might be treated to a re­peat of the 48-42 thriller Ridge­land won last year at home. But North­west did lit­tle from there on out, thanks to a smoth­er­ing de­fense that got stronger as the night went on.

“This def­i­nitely was a state­ment game for us,” Ridge­land head coach Wesley Tanker­s­ley said. “We just played re­ally good all around. We made big plays when we needed them.”

North­west quar­ter­back Luke Shi­flett had a 42-yard run on his first play on a scram­ble back up the mid­dle and then hit Jaret Staten on 35-yard scor­ing strike less than two min­utes into the game.

But Ridge­land (5-0, 1-0) an­swered just as quickly.

“We had a week off and some­times you have to read­just to the speed of the game,” Tanker­s­ley said of North­west’s first scor­ing drive. “They did a good job of re­spond­ing af­ter that. That was the first time we have been down in a game this sea­son. It was good to see the kids bounce back well.”

It was more than just a bounce back.

Ridge­land’s of­fense gob­bled up yards seem­ingly at will from the open­ing drive. Shel­ton, who has an­nounced he will play for Navy in col­lege, fin­ished with 135 yards on 20 car­ries. Wing­back Markeith Mont­gomery av­er­aged more than 10 yards per carry while gain­ing 95 yards with two touch­downs — one on the ground and one re­ceiv­ing.

Quar­ter­back Tan­ner Hill didn’t need to pass with his run­ning game so finely tuned, but he made the most of his passes. He fin­ished 7-of- 9 for 223 yards and two touch­downs.

By the end of the first half as Ridge­land had built a 27-7 lead, the Panthers had out­gained North­west (3-2, 0-1) 259 to 101 in to­tal of­fense.

Ridge­land fin­ished with 551 yards. Mont­gomery had three catches for 114 yards and Stephon Walker added 101 yards on three catches. Both had one for a touch­down.

“We felt like we had some­thing to prove tonight,” Shel­ton said. “We wanted to make a state­ment and I think their score to start the game got our at­ten­tion and had us fo­cused.”

For North­west, head coach Josh Robin­son was dis­ap­pointed his team lost con­trol of the line of scrim­mage on both sides of the ball.

“It is re­ally dis­ap­point­ing,” Robin­son said. “We

didn’t ex­e­cute on of­fense or de­fense at all tonight. We couldn’t block well on the line of scrim­mage and they were able stop our run game and use their speed on the out­side and that let them tee off on us. It was a vi­cious cy­cle.”

Shi­flett fin­ished with just 102 yards pass­ing on 10-of-21 at­tempts, while bruis­ing full­back Do­minique Sistrunk, who came in to the game with 550 yards rush­ing this sea­son, was held to 15 yards on 11 car­ries.

Ridge­land will take a week off be­fore host­ing county ri­val LaFayette, while North­west will head to south Walker County to face the Ram­blers this com­ing Fri­day night.

Ridge­land run­ning back Ja­lyn Shel­ton leaves a pair of North­west de­fend­ers in his wake as he plows in for a score dur­ing a 48-7 Pan­ther vic­tory in Tun­nel Hill. (Photo by Matt Hamil­ton/Dal­ton Daily Cit­i­zen-News)

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