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 one-play 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 team-high 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 (2-5, 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."