Ringgold Tigers

There have been plenty of good games, and a fair share of not-so-good games, in the long and storied rivalry between LFO and Ringgold.

But Friday night's contest, the 75th all-time meeting between the Warriors and the Tigers, is destined to be remembered as a great one.

After falling behind 13-0 midway through the first quarter, the Tigers would rally for a 20-16 victory in what was a playoff atmosphere at Tommy Cash Stadium.

The Ringgold offense would get a touchdown off of a turnover and used two lengthy drives to find the endzone two more times, the last coming with just 3:04 left to play in the game.

Needing an offensive spark, LFO (0-4, 0-2) installed a new spread offense in the week leading up to the game and gave junior Will Carroll the start at quarterback, moving to Malachi Powell to linebacker to give the Warriors some extra physicality on defense.

Carroll responded with a 16-yard touchdown run to cap the Warriors' first possession of night. The option run was set up by a big 46-yard gain from tailback Jacob Brown, who broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and cut back across the field to move the ball into the red zone.

The LFO defense forced a three-and-out on Ringgold's first possession and Carroll electrified the home crowd by returning the punt 72 yards down the left sideline for another score and a 13-0 lead just 4:29 into the contest as the Red-and-White looked to make it four in a row over their longtime rivals.

But Ringgold (2-2, 1-1) would respond with a very impressive 18-play, 80-yard drive that took 6:32 off the clock. They overcame 20 yards in penalties before Kori Dumas ran the wildcat for a 1-yard score with 54 seconds left in the opening stanza.

Tiger quarterback Mason Parker accounted for 61 yards on the march. He completed 4 of 6 passes 32 yards and picked up 29 more on five carries. He also had four big third-down conversions, three on the ground, and used a hard count on fourth down at the LFO 19-yard line to draw the Warriors offside and pick up a crucial first down.

After an exchange of punts, LFO would get the ball back at its own 23-yard line, but Jordan Garnica would step in front of a Carroll pass on third down to set up shop for the Tigers at the Warriors' 13-yard line. Two penalties would back them up to the 28, but a big 16-yard catch by Jordan Wideman jump-started the short drive, which ended with another Wildcat TD run by Dumas, this one from four yards out, on fourth-and-goal with 3:52 left in the half.

LFO answered with an eight-play drive that took just over three minutes. The Warriors fumbled 3 times on the possession, but managed to recover all three before Al Hastick would boot a 46-yard field goal with just 41 seconds left before halftime, staking the hosts to a 16-14 lead at the break.

The Warriors looked to add to their lead on the first possession of the third quarter, but missed a field goal attempt to give the ball to the Tigers at their own 20-yard line. Ringgold would pick up a pair of first downs to get the ball to midfield, but the drive would stall out and the Tigers would be forced to punt it away with 3:42 left in the third quarter.

Starting at its own 19-yard line, LFO would pick up four first downs and run nearly nine minutes off the clock. A 28-yard, third-down gain on a wheel route catch by Jevonnie Womble kept the drive going and head coach Bo Campbell would roll the dice moments later. Forgoing a punt, he put the ball in Carroll's hands on fourth-and-eight from the Ringgold 38 and was rewarded with a 10-yard gain by his quarterback to keep the drive alive.

Another 10-yard gain by Carroll four plays later would give the Warriors first-and-goal at the 9 and three runs would move it down to the 1-yard line. But on fourth-and-goal, the drive would be snuffed out as a high snap would eventually be covered by Ringgold's Cole Carlock at the Ringgold 6.

With just 6:49 showing on the clock and still trailing by two, the Tigers began what would be the game-winning drive. Ringgold threw the ball just once in the 11-play march. Peyton Williams carried three times for 39 yards, including a 16-yard run that gave his team first-and-goal at the four. One play later, senior Price Pennington found a gap on the right side of the line and powered into the endzone with just 3:04 left to play. However, a failed conversion run would keep the lead at just four points.

Needing a touchdown to retake the lead, Carroll ran for 17 yards and Womble picked up 13 yards, while 15 additional yards were tacked on following a Ringgold personal foul that moved the ball all the way down to the Tigers 25-yard line.

However, the Tiger defense, which bowed its neck several times during the game, put up one final stand.

They stuffed a first-down run and forced an incomplete pass one play after the Warriors lost five additional yards on a penalty. Womble managed 14 yards on a third-and-18 call and the ball game would come down to fourth-and-four from the Tigers' 19 with just under a minute remaining.

But whatever play was called in the Warriors' huddle never came to fruition. Another high snap led to a scramble on the ground before the Tigers fell on the loose pigskin back at the LFO 29-yard line with just 48 seconds to play, effectively sealing the Ringgold victory and snapping the Tigers' three-game losing streak in the series.

Parker was an efficient 12 of 16 in the air for 102 yards to five different receivers. Williams led Ringgold with four catches for 39 yards. He also had a team-best 74 yards rushing on 10 carries. Dumas added 69 yards on 13 attempts, while Parker rushed 11 times for 43 yards. Malachi Hill had three carries for 33 yards, including a big 23-yard gain on the final drive to help set up the winning score.

Carroll went 3 of 7 in the air for 53 yards, all to Womble. Carroll also ran the ball 21 times for 90 yards, while Brown had 14 carries for a season-high 139 yards. Womble also picked up 32 yards on nine carries.

Ringgold will travel to Murray County next Friday night, while LFO will be back at home to face Coahulla Creek.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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