In a battle of the Tigers, Ringgold finished with the upper hand as it defeated region rival Adairsville 23-17 Friday night.
For Adairsville, the team has now lost its first region game of the season but still holds a 2-1 record, as it defeated Murray County and LaFayette in previous weeks.
“We had too many penalties and too many missed assignments. Our defense played well and, when I say that, I take nothing away from Ringgold. They’re a very improved team. They’re a very good football team,” Adairsville head football coach Eric Bishop said. “We made mistakes in the first half that kept drives alive for them. Our defense did a great job all night long and we held them at bay, but when you give them free yards on dead ball penalties, it kept drives alive for them and our offense off the field.”
The game began on a positive note for Adairsville (3-2), as Eli Agnew intercepted a pass by Ringgold’s quarterback Mason Parker. After a 30-yard return by Agnew, Adairsville started its drive on Ringgold’s 11-yard line. Unfortunately for Adairsville, the team came up short of reaching the end zone as the Ringgold (3-3) defense held the team to a three-and-out.
The next two offensive possessions finished in punts. But on the first play of the second quarter, Parker found Peyton Williams down the middle of the field, and Williams ran into the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown pass. After a successful extra point, Ringgold led 7-0.
On the next drive for Adairsville, Chris Roper fumbled after catching a pass and the ball was recovered by Ringgold. But the momentum by Ringgold was short-lived as the Adairsville defense held the opponent to a three-and-out.
During Adairsville’s next drive, the team put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in six points as Ja’Maury Johnson rushed for 11 yards on the touchdown play. After a successful extra point by Emanuel Lopez, the game was tied 7-7.
Ringgold quickly responded three plays later, when Kori Dumas scored off a 14-yard rushing touchdown, which was set up by Williams, as he rushed for 36 yards on the previous play.
Afterwards, just before the end of the second quarter, Ringgold’s special teams blocked a punt attempt by Adairsville and the team recovered the ball inside the end zone, which resulted in a safety for Ringgold. At the time, Ringgold extended its lead to 16-7.
On the opening drive of the second half, Adairsville’s Conner Crunkelton was intercepted by the Ringgold defense, but Ringgold failed to capitalize off the turnover as Adairsville held the team to a three-and-out.
Halfway through the third quarter, Adairsville would cut Ringgold’s lead to two points when Agnew rushed into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown. The score by Agnew ended a six play, 58-yard drive for Adairsville. After a successful extra point by Lopez, Adairsville trailed 16-14.
After a couple of offensive drives that would end in punts, Ringgold found the momentum it was looking for when it forced Crunkelton to fumble and recovered the ball.
Seven plays and 43 yards later, Ringgold extended its lead when Price Pennington scored off an 11-yard rushing touchdown. At the time, Ringgold led 23-14 with 8:35 left in the game.
Adairsville’s offense would take the field afterwards, but just when Adairsville was driving down the field, Crunkelton threw his second interception of the night. The Adairsville defense would quickly force a three-and-out on Ringgold, and Adairsville was back on offense.
On Adairsville’s last offensive drive of the night, Lopez kicked a successful 24-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game, 23-17, with 3:29 left in the clock.
Adairsville would attempt an onside kick but the ball did not travel the necessary 10 yards. Ringgold would take possession, and would then run out the clock to end the game.
For Adairsville, Crunkelton was 12-for-18 for 114 yards. Johnson rushed for 90 yards on 17 attempts and scored one touchdown, Agnew finished with 11 rushing attempts for 51 yards and one touchdown. Courtney Slocum added 12 rushing yards on four attempts, and he finished with 22 receiving yards on three catches.
“It was just a good high school game. We gave ourselves a chance late in the game to win. We kicked the field goal, we’re out of timeouts, and then we attempted the onside kick but it didn’t happen,” Bishop said. “It was a tough away environment; it always is up here. They had a good game plan, and they forced us to make some adjustments. We were able to move the ball in the second half, but it was too little, too late.
"We’re going to learn and grow from this. There’s a lot of football left to be played in this region, and with all the different obstacles we have this year and the year 2020, anything can happen. We’ll watch the film tomorrow morning and fix our mistakes.”