Ragsdale Football Report from this week’s Jamestown News with Mike Ellis(After riding rough-shod over Cowboys, Tigers prepare for NWG and Homecoming this week)

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Tied for first place in the Piedmont Triad Conference with North-west Guilford, Ragsdale went on the road to Southwest Guilford on Friday night to mark the halfway point in the league schedule. The Tigers and Cowboys have a long history of “neighborly” rivalries on the gridiron and oftentimes records can be thrown out the window when the two meet.

Ragsdale came into the game riding a two-game winning streak, while Southwest was going in the opposite direction, dropping their last two contests. The Tigers have dominated the series in recent years, but with both teams playing their second game in five days because of making up a game on Monday, Ragsdale knew anything could happen.

After a scoreless first quarter, Ragsdale scored 10 straight points in the second, only to see Southwest find the end zone with a minute left in the half to cut the halftime deficit to three points. After exchanging touchdowns in the second half, Southwest was still within three early in the fourth quarter and the outcome of the game was very much in doubt. That’s when Ragsdale went on a four-minute drive to extend the lead to 10 and then put the game away with a blocked punt that set up the last touchdown and made the final score 31-14.

Early on, neither team could generate much offense. Ragsdale’s two first-quarter possessions both ended with the Tigers turning the ball over on downs in Southwest territory as they failed to convert on fourth down. The Cowboys were forced to punt the first two times they had the ball. Ragsdale finally got the offense untracked going on a nine-play drive. Starting on their 20 yard line, the Tigers started moving the ball on the ground. Junior Marquez Eleazer picked up consecutive first downs on runs of 12 and 24 yards to move the ball into Southwest territory. Xavier Jones came in and kept the ball moving, carrying the pigskin four times and aided by a Cowboy personal foul penalty gave the Tigers a first and goal at the 6 yard line. At that point the drive stalled and when a third-down pass fell incomplete, coach Tommy Norwood sent in Brad Davis to kick a 20-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the second quarter.

The Ragsdale defense set up the next Tiger score. Southwest started on their 14 yard line. On the third play from scrimmage, Southwest tried a pass over the middle and linebacker Duncan Sparks picked it off and heading up the left side got the ball down to the 1 yard line. A Tiger penalty on the interception return moved the ball back to the 14 and the offense wasted little time in capitalizing on the turnover. Quarterback Garrison Herndon found Anthony Stewart with a pass at the 10 and Stewart did the rest, shaking off tacklers and barreling into the end zone with 1:39 left in the half.

Southwest came right back as Ray Bridges took the kickoff at his 15 yard line broke free at the 30 and headed up the left sideline. Kicker Brad Davis made a great play to save the touchdown, bringing Bridges down at the 9, but it was only a temporary reprieve. Quarterback Demario Smith connected with Larry Edwards on a pass over the middle to take the ball to the 1. Braxton Daye got the score from there as he was barely able to stretch out into the end zone for the touchdown. The Tanner Butler extra point sent the Cowboys into the locker room with some momentum and only facing a three-point deficit at 10-7.

Ragsdale took the second half kickoff and moved the ball to the Southwest 20 but were unable to convert a field goal. The Tiger defense forced a three and out on the Cowboy possession and a short punt put the Ragsdale offense back in business in Southwest territory at the 45 yard line. Once again aided by a Southwest penalty, this one for illegal participation, Ragsdale used three straight Eleazer carries to get in the end zone. The last Eleazer carry went off right tackle from four yards out and after the Davis conversion, Ragsdale had once again extended the lead to 10 points at 17-7.

Southwest wasn’t done, going on a seven-play, 80-yard drive as they found success through the air to again cut the lead to three. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass from Smith to senior wide receiver Andre Bowens who went up over the Tiger defensive back for a 37-yard reception. With a first down at the Ragsdale 26, Southwest picked up two yards on two carries and then struck for the score on the second play of the fourth quarter. Smith and Bowens once again hooked up, this time from 24 yards out for the touchdown. Butler converted to make the score 17-14.

With Southwest gaining some momentum from the touchdown and only trailing by three in the fourth quarter, the pressure shifted to the Ragsdale offense to answer and move the ball. The offense was up to the challenge. A “pooch” kickoff was fielded by Joe Pantuso at his 31 yard line and he returned it 10 yards to give the offense possession at their 41. Ten plays and 3:44 later, Ragsdale found the end zone again and took back the momentum. Eleazer carried the ball five times on the drive picking up a total of 24 yards and once again Southwest was hit with a 15-yard penalty. Garrison Herndon and Erick Romer teamed up for two receptions for 10 yards and the Tigers found themselves with second and goal from the four yard line. Xavier Jones covered that final four as he went around left end for the touchdown. Davis was again successful on the point-after and Ragsdale was up 24-14.

With “mo” firmly back on the Tigers side, the Ragsdale defense took over the game. After giving up a first down, the defense shut the Cowboys down and forced a punt from the Southwest 45 yard line. Junior defensive lineman Winston Craig broke through the line and arrived at the punter just as the ball was leaving his foot. Joe Pantuso scooped it and was brought down at the Cowboys 5 yard line. QB Herndon spotted an opening and went into the end zone for the score. The Davis PAT made it 31-14 with just over five minutes left.

The Ragsdale defense wasn’t done as they made sure the Cowboys wouldn’t mount any sort of comeback. Ragsdale’s defensive lineman Chaka McCoy finally sealed the deal, playing a screen pass perfectly, tipping it in the air and intercepting it.

The victory moved the Tigers to 6-1 on the year and 3-0 in the conference. The Tiger offense started slowly but on a night when the passing game was not clicking, found their running game as they picked up 210 yards on 39 carries. Marquez Eleazer was the leading ground gainer, with 150 yards on 23 carries and also scored a touchdown. Garrison Herndon connected on 8 of 15 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Herndon also scored a touchdown on the ground. Anthony Stewart was the leading receiver with four catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. Erik Romer had three receptions for a total of 14 yards.

The Tiger defense played well, limiting the Cowboys to 59 yards in rushing on 35 carries. Linebacker Trey Grimes and lineman Larry Ogunjobi were both credited with nine tackles and Ogunjobi also had a big sack. Chaka McCoy was in on six tackles and had an interception. Linebacker Duncan Sparks made his fifth interception of the year as he leads Ragsdale in that category. Winston Craig had a blocked punt that set up the final Ragsdale touchdown. The defense did give up some long passes as they were burned for a 37-yard and 24-yard completion on one drive.

Southwest was unable to establish a running game, but did get 42 yards on 14 carries from Larry Edwards. Quarterback Demario Smith was 6 for 11 for 109 yards and a touchdown, but did throw two interceptions. Andres Bowens was the leading receiver with two catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Raymond Bridges set up the first Southwest touchdown with an outstanding 76-yard kickoff return.

Southwest fell to 2-5 and 0-2 in the Piedmont Triad Conference. They will continue conference play this Friday as they travel to Kernersville to take on the Bobcats from Glenn.

Next up for Ragsdale is the homecoming game Friday night against Northwest Guilford in a game that could very well decide the Piedmont Triad Conference title. Both teams come into the game with identical 6-1 overall and 3-0 conference records. Northwest defeated High Point Central this past Friday by a 21-13 score. Ragsdale pulled out a 24-21 win last year to spoil Northwest’s homecoming game and the Tigers have won three in a row in the rivalry. With the conference title on the line, Northwest would like nothing better than to return the favor and spoil Ragsdale’s homecoming.

Ragsdale 0 10 7 14 31
SW Guilford 0 7 0 7 14

First Downs 17-R 6-SWG
Rushing Yardage 210-R 59-SWG
Rushes 39-R 35-SWG
Passing Yardage 47-R 109-SWG
Pass Comp/Att/Int. 8-16-0-R 6-11-2-SWG
Punts/Avg Yds 0-0-R 3-25.0-SWG
Fumbles/Lost 1-0-R 2-0-SWG
Penalties/Yds 10-85-R 10-102-SWG
Time of Possession 23:21-R 24:39-SWG

Scoring Summary
Second Quarter
R – Brad Davis 20 yard field goal (2:55)
R – Anthony Stewart 14 yard pass from Garrison Herndon (Davis kick) (1:39)
SWG – Braxton Daye 1 yard run (Tanner Butler kick) (0:32)
Third Quarter
R – Marquez Eleazer 4 yard run (Davis kick) (3:20)
Fourth Quarter
SWG – Andre Bowens 24 yard pass from Demario Smith (Butler kick) (11:12)
R – Xavier Jones 4 yard run (Davis kick) (7:28)
R – Garrison Herndon 3 yard run (Davis kick) (5:22)