by Mike Ellis Jamestown News and from Ogi Overman Jamestown News……
Ragsdale had their first home game of the season on Friday night after spending the first two weeks on the road. The Tigers had won their season opener before falling last week to the Dudley Panthers. The opponent for the night was the Hornets of Western Guilford who had dropped their first two games and came into the contest looking for their first win of the season.
Ragsdale also faced some player personnel issues as they had their top three receivers out for the contest as well as their leading rusher, a starting linebacker and a starting defensive tackle. The Tigers still found a way, calling on players to step up and even finding a player from the junior varsity who made a significant contribution on the night as they picked up the 25-17 victory.
Western Guilford dominated the first quarter, running 15 plays while the Tigers only had one possession which consisted of seven plays and a fumble on the Western 18 yard line. Western took over and began a five-minute drive that resulted in a 17-yard field goal by Daley Hall on the last play of the first quarter.
After the kickoff, Ragsdale needed only eight plays to cover 80 yards and take the lead. Quarterback Luke Heavner completed three passes on the drive, two to sophomore wide receiver Erik Romer and the touchdown pass to Justin Briley. The big play was a 48-yard completion to Romer over the middle that set up a first and goal from the Western 3 yard line. After a short run moved the ball to the 2, Heavner found Briley on the left sideline and he cut inside to the end zone for the Tiger touchdown. Brad Davis converted the extra point and Ragsdale had taken a 7-3 lead.
Western came right back behind the passing of their junior quarterback, Josh Thompson, and moved the ball to the Ragsdale 14. From there the drive stalled as two consecutive passes fell incomplete and the Tigers took over on downs.
Keeping the ball on the ground, Ragsdale picked up 71 yards on five plays, the biggest gain coming from sophomore tailback Mar-quez Eleazer who had been called up from the junior varsity. After Barry Brown had opened the drive with a five-yard run up the middle and Heavner had scampered for 15 more, Eleazer took the handoff and went off right tackle for 35 yards for a first down at the Western 31. Michael Baldwin picked up 11and Eleazer got another five to move the ball to the 15. After the five consecutive running plays, Heavner found Pete Romer cutting across the middle with a perfectly thrown pass. After the reception, Justin Briley cleared the path to the end zone with a great block on the corner as Romer went in for the score. The extra point attempt was blocked but the Tigers had extended the lead to 13-3.
Western Guilford wasn’t about to go quietly, though. With just under two minutes left until halftime, the Hornets went 75 yards in only six plays to pull within three. The big plays on the drive were a 30-yard run by Xavier Knight and a 35-yard pass from Thompson to Eric Davidson which moved the ball to Ragsdale’s 10. The drive ended as Thompson hit Tyler Stutts who was wide open in the left corner of the end zone. The touchdown and successful point after came with only 19 seconds left in the half and cut the Ragsdale lead to 13-10.
The opening drive of the second half was the key to the game. Ragsdale took over at their 20 and used almost six minutes and ran off 13 plays to get the ball in the end zone. Eleazer and Brown split the running duties and Heavner found three different receivers on the drive. Heavner also picked up a key first down with his feet as he ran for eight yards on a 3rd-and-2 to keep the drive alive. The big play of the drive was a 27-yard pass from Heavner to Briley to the Western 6. The referee tacked on another three yards after a Hornet personal foul for a late hit. From there, Barry Brown carried the ball twice, the final carry coming from inside the 1 for the touchdown. Again the extra point was blocked, but the Tigers had gone up by a 19-10 score.
Ragsdale’s last score of the night came courtesy of a short field set up when Western was forced to go for a first down from their 11 yard line with just over three minutes left in the game. When the deep pass fell incomplete, Ragsdale took over and covered the 11 yards with three running plays. After two runs had only picked up three yards and a pass attempt had fallen incomplete, the Tigers faced a 4th-and-7 from the 8 yard line. Heavner dropped back to pass and when he could not find an open receiver scrambled up the left sideline and into the end zone for the touchdown. In what had become a recurring theme, Ragsdale missed their third extra point of the night but had extended the lead to 25-10 with just over two minutes left in the game.
Western would get one more score in that final two minutes on a 14-play, 58-yard drive. The touchdown came with only 13 seconds left and was a Thompson-to-Knight 26-yard pass play. After Ragsdale gained possession on the Western onside kick attempt, the Tigers ran out the clock to preserve the 25-17 victory.
The defense gave up 243 yards through the air as Western quarterback Josh Thompson continually found open receivers. The Tigers defense held the Hornets to 86 yards rushing and one big play accounted for 30 of those yards. Ragsdale was missing one of their starting linebackers and the middle linebacker, Trey Swaim, went out early in the third quarter with an injury and was unable to return. Linebacker Trey Grimes was the leading tackler on the night, credited with seven tackles. Sophomore defensive linemen Brian Nwokolo and Will Sams were each credited with two sacks.
The offense found some “big play guys” during the game. With starters out at key positions, some other players proved they want to make plays. Sophomore tailback Marquez Eleazer saw his first varsity action and picked up 87 yards on 14 carries as he displayed speed and the ability to make cuts and run hard. Fullback Michael Baldwin picked up 45 yards on just four carries while Barry Brown had 14 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Luke Heavner had his most impressive game of the season. Coming into the game, Heavner only had one receiver available who had caught a pass in the first two games, but he found some new targets. Heavner completed 13 of 20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Heavner also ran the ball eight times for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Tommy Norwood has been looking for a leader for this year’s team and Heavner demonstrated on this night that he is that leader. Heavner went to junior wide out Justin Briley for six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Briley had not caught a pass coming into the game but was a big-time receiver on this night. Sophomore Erik Romer also caught his first varsity pass as he had four receptions for 76 yards and his brother, senior Pete Romer, had three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
The win moves the Tigers to 2-1 on the young season as they now head back on the road to take on the Page Pirates. The Pirates are 3-0 and are coming off a 28-18 road win at Northern Durham. Ragsdale has won three consecutive games against Page and will have to play their best game of the season to continue that streak against the highly regarded Pirates.
W Guilford 3 7 0 7 17
Ragsdale 0 13 6 6 25
First Downs 18 WG 17 R
Rushing Yardage 198 WG 86 R
Rushes 40 WG 24 R
Passing Yardage 212 WG 243 R
Pass Comp-Att-Int. 13-20-0 WG 18-33-0 R
Punts-Avg Yds 1 for 36.0 WG 3 for 31.7 R
Fumbles – Lost 1-1 WG 0-0 R
Penalties – Yds 3-23 WG 10-49 R
Time of Possession 23:55 WG 24:05 R
WG – Daley Hall 17 yard field goal (0:00)
R – Justin Briley 2 yard pass from Luke Heavner (Brad Davis kick) (9:04)
WG – Tyler Stutts 3 yard pass from Josh Thompson (Hall kick) (0:19)
R – Barry Brown 1 yard run (kick failed) (6:11)
R – Heavner 8 yard run (kick failed) (2:05)
WG – Xavier Knight 26 yard pass from Thompson (Hall kick) (0:13)