Ringgold Tigers

Last Friday night, the Sonoraville Phoenix overcame an 18-point, second-half deficit for a stunning 42-38 victory at LaFayette.

Back at home this Friday night, they put on another second-half comeback, this time for the fans at home.

Trailing 23-10 with less than four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Phoenix scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and stunned visiting Ringgold, 26-23.

Both teams would score on their opening possessions. Sonoraville got a 39-yard field goal from Daniel Orellana, while Ringgold countered with a 13-play, 86-yard drive, picking up six first downs before Kori Dumas took a swing pass from Mason Parker and scampered 11 yards to the end zone. Landon Eaker's extra point gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead with 5:34 left in the opening quarter.

It turned out to be the only offensive points of the opening half.

The Tigers' next drive saw them march from their own 15 down to the Sonoraville 31. But a high snap on second down and a tackle for loss on third down would thwart the drive.

Ringgold used another five-minute drive on its third possession to move the ball from its own 19 to the Sonoraville 1. However, the Phoenix defense stiffened and stopped the Tigers on fourth-and-goal.

Two plays would move the ball out to the 11-yard line, but a high snap on first down sent the ball bouncing around in the end zone. Phoenix quarterback Brady Lackey was forced to fall on it for a safety and Ringgold would take the precarious 9-3 lead into halftime.

However, the lead would be short-lived once the second half began as Brant Bryant jump in front of a pass from Parker and returned it 35 yards to put the home team in front by one, 10-9, just 1:16 into the third quarter.

The Tigers would have to punt the ball away on its next possession, but they shut down a fake punt attempt by the Phoenix to get the ball back with 7:01 left in the quarter. Ringgold went 64 yards in seven plays, using big third-and-long catches by Dumas and Malachi Hill to set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Hill on a jet sweep. Dumas then ran in the conversion to put Ringgold back and front, 17-10, with 4:12 to play in the period.

The Blue-and-White got a gift less than a minute later. Dropping back to pass, Lackey simply had the ball slip out of his hands and defensive lineman Brandon Orman was there to fall on it at the Phoenix 12-yard line.

The Tigers were whistled for a false start on their first snap, but the second snap saw Dumas haul in a swing pass from Parker before he sprinted 17 yards for the score that increased Ringgold's lead to 23-10 following a missed extra point.

Sonoraville would take possession at its own 29-yard line and moved briskly down the field in nine plays. They overcame a 10-yard holding call before Lackey was able to break the plane of the goal from three yards out, trimming the deficit to 23-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Then, after forcing a Tiger punt, the Phoenix would drive down to the Ringgold 5-yard line. But a 15-yard personal foul penalty forced a field goal try and Orellana connected on another 39-yard boot to pull his team to within three points of lead with 6:20 left.

Looking to grind up the clock with its running game, the Tigers picked up two first downs, but the Sonoraville defense held on third-and-two near midfield with just over two minutes to go and Ringgold elected to punt. A 34-yard boot by Eaker backed up the Phoenix up to its own 16-yard line with 2:02 left in the ball game.

Lackey misfired with a pass on first down, but not on the second as he found Bryant on a slip screen. The sophomore picked up his blockers and electrified the home crowd by outrunning the Ringgold secondary to complete an 84-yard TD catch for the go-ahead score. The extra point was missed.

Ringgold began its final drive at its own 23 with 1:30 play and got a big 12-yard, fourth-down by Parker to move the ball out to the 38-yard line and keep the drive alive. However, the next three plays netted zero yards and one final pass catch was stopped four yards short of a first down, effectively ending the game with 15 seconds left to play.

Lackey finished 11 of 19 in the air for 215 yards, while adding 66 yards on 15 carries. He threw one interception at the end of the first half, which was picked off by Kyle White. Zach Lyles had 12 carries for 37 yards, while Bryant had a huge game with 146 yards on just six catches.

Ringgold finished with 387 yards of total offense. Parker was a solid 19 of 26 for 202 yards. Dumas had nine catches for 106 yards and added 117 yards on 20 rushes. Hill picked up 58 yards on five catches.

The Tigers (5-4, 4-3) will host Rockmart next Friday night at Don Patterson Field.

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

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