from Mike Ellis with the Jamestown News at www.womacknewspapers.com….
Two of the top teams in the Piedmont Triad Conference met in a big game in the second week of conference play on Friday night. With both teams coming into the game with identical 5-0 records and with first place in the PTC at stake, emotions were running high as the Ragsdale Tigers went on the road to meet the East Forsyth Eagles. The home team was dominant, sending the Tigers home with a decisive 35-7 defeat.
East Forsyth came into the game with very impressive statistics and a No. 8 ranking in the state AP poll. They had outscored their opponents by large margins in each game, averaging 37 points a game and only allowing an average of six points. Ragsdale also came in with an unblemished record and had averaged 30 points a game while giving up 15.
Ragsdale got on the board first, taking the opening kickoff and covering 83 yards in eight plays and scoring on a trick play to go up 7-0. Little did they suspect that this would be their lone score of the long evening. East responded with a 10-play drive to tie the game, then scored the game’s next 28 points as they overwhelmed the Tigers on both sides of the ball.
East Forsyth returned 15 starters from last year’s team, including their quarterback and several key players on both sides of the ball, and have 33 seniors on the roster. Ragsdale coach Tommy Norwood noted after the game that the Eagles were bigger and stronger than the Tigers and they used that size plus their speed to dominate on both sides of the ball.
East ran 64 offensive plays compared to Ragsdale’s 38 and the Eagles had 341 yards in total offense compared to the Tigers’ 135, as well as 21 first downs compared to six. Although statistics don’t always tell the story, these stats are reflective of just how the game was played as Ragsdale just could not stop the Eagles when they had the ball and could not move the ball themselves on offense.
Ragsdale’s offensive highlight came on their first possession. Starting on their 17 yard line, the Tigers went 83 yards in eight plays. Ragsdale converted two third-down plays to keep the drive alive, the second one coming on a nine-yard scamper around right end by Taylor Booker on a third and seven. With the ball on the Ragsdale 42 yard line, quarterback Colson Herndon pitched the ball to tailback Marquez Eleazer who ran a few yards to his right, pulled up and threw a pass to Brandon Walker who pulled it in on the Eagle 25 yard line. Walker broke a tackle after the catch and ran to the end zone for the game’s first score. Lucas Hicks converted the point-after and after just over four minutes had elapsed, Ragsdale had a 7-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived as East Forsyth responded with a 66-yard drive with Lavaughnte’ Smith covering the final two yards off right tackle for the score.
From that point on, East Forsyth took over the game. After their defense forced the Tigers to punt on their next two possessions, the Eagles drove for touchdowns. The first drive was eight plays and covered 55 yards with DeAnthony Neal taking a 10-yard pass from Garrison Duncan for a score and followed that up with another eight-play drive, this one covering 60 yards and culminating with an Antwone Vance six-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-7.
Just before the half, Ragsdale’s defense came up with a big play to give the offense a chance to cut into the deficit. East Forsyth tried to throw a pass over the middle and Ragsdale’s Fred Davis cut in front of the receiver and tipped the ball. Duncan Sparks also got a hand on it after the tip before Davis pulled in the interception and returned it to the Eagle 17 yard line with just over three minutes left in the first half. Facing a third and 3, Eleazer ran up the middle for four yards and a first and goal at the 6 yard line. Three consecutive brought up a fourth down at the 2 yard line. After a timeout, Herndon tried to hit tight end Winston Craig with a pass in the end zone, but East tipped the ball and Jason Nieradka came up with the interception to stop the drive and end what would turn out to be the Tigers last scoring threat.
If there were any hopes of a Tiger comeback, the Eagles ended those thoughts on the opening drive of the second half. Covering 80 yards in 17 plays and taking 6:53 off the clock, East Forsyth used a methodical “run it down your throat” drive to score, with Garrison Duncan covering the final three yards. It was old fashioned “smash-mouth” football with no play covering more than eight yards, but every play was for positive yardage as the Eagles ran the ball 15 times on the drive and completed two passes and picked up six first downs. That drive was the story of the night. Although they didn’t have any big plays, the Eagles could move the ball and sustain drives using many different players to gain yards.
East Forsyth scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter on a Smith 17-yard run to wrap up the decisive 35-7 victory to move to 6-0 and 2-0 in conference play. Quarterback Duncan was the leading ground-gainer for the Eagles with 110 yards on 21 carries and he also completed 7 of 9 passes for 67 yards. The East Forsyth defense limited the Tigers to 35 yards net rushing and only allowed one second-half first down. Next up for East Forsyth is the 0-6 Parkland Mustangs at home on Friday.
Ragsdale will now have to regroup after dropping its first game of the 2012 season and start focusing on the rest of the season. Next up is a perennial archrival in the Southwest Guilford Cowboys with the game to be played at Ragsdale on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Southwest has struggled so far this season, coming into this game with a 1-5 record, but history has shown that records can be thrown out the window in this rivalry.
Ragsdale 7 0 0 0 7
East Forsyth 7 14 7 7 35
R-Brandon Walker 58 yard pass from Marquez Eleazer (Lucas Hicks kick) (7:56)
EF-Lavaughnte’ Smith 2 yard run (Alex Lawrence kick) (4:15)
EF-DeAnthony Neal 10 yard pass from Garrison Duncan (Lawrence kick) (10:17)
EF-Antwone Vance 6 yard run (Lawrence kick) (5:26)
EF-Duncan 3 yard run (Lawrence kick) (5:07)
EF-Smith 17 yard run (Lawrence kick) (5:09)
First Downs 6R 21EF
Rushing Yardage 35R 274EF
Rushes 25R 55EF
Passing Yardage 100R 67EF
Pass Comp/Attempts/Int. 8/13/2R 7/9/1EF
Punts/Avg. Yards 5/34.6 1/39.0R
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 2/0EF
Penalties/Yards 6/35R 3/30EF
Time of Possession 19:04R 28:56EF