Ridge­land all busi­ness against county ri­val LaFayette

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

With a huge game loom­ing at un­beaten Her­itage this week and with his team as a heavy fa­vorite against county foe LaFayette, Ridge­land head coach Wes­ley Tanker­s­ley came into this past Fri­day’s matchup look­ing to see if his Pan­thers could han­dle their busi­ness and avoid the dreaded “trap game”.

It didn’t take very long for any lin­ger­ing doubts he may have had to sub­side.

Fourth-ranked Ridge­land scored on its first six pos­ses­sions, none of which went more than four plays, and rolled to their sixth straight vic­tory, 62-0, at Bow­ers and Pain­ter Field.

The Pan­thers starters played only the first half as they racked up 300 yards of of­fense, 224 com­ing on the ground, while they held the Ram­blers to 30 yards in the first two quar­ters.

“Like we told our kids, we ex­pected to win the game,” Tanker­s­ley said. “But the big­gest thing was if they were go­ing to come out, be ma­ture and ex­e­cute the way they needed to ex­e­cute, even though they were fa­vored to win by a lot. Were they go­ing to come out and act the right way and do things the right way and I felt like they did that through­out the night.”

The Pan­thers wasted lit­tle time, tak­ing the open­ing kick­off and scor­ing on the fourth play. Markeith Mont­gomery dragged sev­eral tack­lers on a 33-yard run that set up Ja­lyn Shel­ton’s 6-yard touch­down run just 1:20 into the con­test.

Af­ter line­backer Tim Bow­man re­cov­ered a LaFayette fum­ble on the Ram­blers’ third play from scrim­mage, Tan­ner Hill hit Stephon Walker for 27 yards to the LaFayette 1 be­fore Shel­ton plowed in for his sec­ond and fi­nal rush­ing TD of the night.

Mont­gomery would score the next two touch­downs on one­play drives fol­low­ing LaFayette punts. The first went for 54 yards, while he cov­ered 65 yards on the next one and Ridge­land en­joyed a 28-0 cush­ion at the end of the first quar­ter.

A 39-yard punt re­turn by Jor­dan Hugh­ley helped set up a 34-yard TD run by Gabe McDon­ald on the first play of the sec­ond quar­ter and, fol­low­ing LaFayette’s sec­ond lost fum­ble of the night, Shel­ton took a pitch, rolled out and hit Walker on a 46-yard scor­ing strike to make it 49-0, which turned out to be the half­time score.

The en­tire sec­ond half was played with a run­ning clock.

Ridge­land’s back-ups tacked on three more scores over the fi­nal two short­ened pe­ri­ods. A’za­vier Black­well scored one a 1-yard run, Kobe Mont­gomery got loose on a 35-yard scam­per on the first play of the fourth pe­riod and Ryan Frost scored from seven yards out on a jet sweep with 2:57 to play.

Markeith Mont­gomery ac­counted for nearly half of Ridge­land’s 314 yards on the ground as he picked up a teamhigh 152 yards on just three car­ries. Kobe Mont­gomery had 44 yards on three at­tempts,

while McDon­ald had 42 yards on just two car­ries.

Hill con­nected on both his pass at­tempts, while Walker caught two passes for the Pan­thers, rack­ing up 73 yards. Kicker Con­ner Mid­dle­ton’s fi­nal ex­tra point of the night was blocked, but he fin­ished 8-of-9 on PAT’s and had four kick­offs go for touch­backs.

LaFayette to­taled just 52 yards of of­fense, 41 com­ing on 31 car­ries. Alan Hu led the Ram­blers with 29 yards on 11 at­tempts.

The Ram­blers (25, 0-3) will be off this Fri­day night, while the eyes of north­west Ge­or­gia will turn to­ward Boyn­ton as Ridge­land (6-0, 2-0) will face off with Her­itage (7-0, 3-0) in a game that could go a long way in de­cid­ing the Re­gion 6-AAAA ti­tle.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a big one (this) week,” Tanker­s­ley added. “It’s go­ing to be a big, big game for us.”

LaFayette’s Kyler Cleghorn tries to grab hold of Ridge­land’s Tor­rance Roberts dur­ing Fri­day’s game in Rossville. (Photo by Bam­bara Aven/www.bbaven.com)

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