The Ragsdale Report from Mike Ellis at the Jamestown News:Fast start, tough finish at NWG

from Mike Ellis with the Jamestown News at

Ragsdale went on the road Friday night to Northwest Guilford for a key Piedmont Triad Conference matchup. The game could not have started any better for the Tigers as they drove for a touchdown on their first possession, then on the first play of the second quarter got their second score of the night to extend their lead to 14-0. From that point on, Northwest would score the next 21 points, hold Ragsdale to a field goal for the rest of the game and force five Tiger turnovers. A kickoff return for a score and an interception for a touchdown put a cap on a Viking 35-17 win.

With the win, Northwest moves into second place in the conference while Ragsdale goes into their bye week looking to regroup and get back on track for the final two games of the regular season.

It was hard to figure where the game turned in the Vikings’ favor. Taking the opening kickoff, Ragsdale moved 74 yards in six plays for the game’s first touchdown. After two runs produced a first down, quarterback Colson Herndon rolled out to the right side and threw a pass to TJ Parker for 26 yards to move the ball into Viking territory. Facing a third and six from the 29 yard line, Marquez Eleazer went up the middle for the score. The extra point was wide right, but the Tigers had taken a 6-0 lead just three minutes into the game.

After an exchange of punts, Ragsdale got the first break of the game. Northwest was driving the ball and had advanced to the Ragsdale 45 yard line when the Tiger defense forced a fumble. Winston Craig came up with the loose ball, giving the offense good field position. Four consecutive running plays moved the ball to the Northwest 38 yard line and on the first play of the second quarter the Herndon-Parker duo struck again. Herndon lofted a pass down the right sideline and Parker out jumped the defender at the 10-yard line and scampered into the end zone for the score. Ragsdale went for the two-point conversion and were successful when Herndon hit Erik Romer on a slant pass in the end zone to make the score 14-0.

It was a great start and the Tigers had Northwest on their heels, but the Vikings responded like the veteran team that they are. A 73-yard, 12-play drive that took almost six minutes produced their first score. Five different runners carried the ball as the Vikings, picked up five first downs. Facing a third and goal from the 3 yard line, quarterback Andrew Ritz pitched the ball to Anthony Harding who went around the right end and into the end zone. Hunter Long kicked the extra point and Northwest was back in the game with a 14-7 deficit.

Ragsdale responded with a big play on their next possession. After Brandon Walker returned the kickoff 21 yards to the Ragsdale 36 yard line, Herndon found Parker on a 49 yard pass play to move the ball to the Northwest 15 yard line. Just when it looked as if the Tigers would extend their lead, disaster struck. It proved to be a huge turning point in the game.

Herndon and Eleazer bobbled the handoff and Northwest recovered to stop the Tiger drive and shifted the momentum back to the Vikings. They took advantage of the turnover by going on an 85-yard, 11-play drive. Ragsdale helped the drive along with a crucial penalty, then Ritz completed his first pass of the night as Brandon Weaver got 10 yards behind the nearest Ragsdale defender. Even though Ritz underthrew the pass, Weaver was able to wait for it and pull it in for a 40-yard completion to the Ragsdale 15 yard line. Ritz ran a quarterback sneak for the final yard.

Going from a potential 21-7 lead to a 14-14 halftime tie was a huge swing and Northwest rode that momentum for the rest of the game.

The third quarter saw the defenses step up and force four consecutive punts. One of those punts, however, turned the game around. With the ball at their own 36 yard line and facing a fourth down and 5, Northwest’s Andrew Ritz went into punt formation and kicked the ball 59 yards over the head of the Tigers’ Walker. Walker retreated and was finally able to pick the ball up at the 5 yard line, but was brought down at the 7. When the Tigers were unable to move the ball, Walker was forced to punt out of his end zone and the Vikings took over deep in Ragsdale territory at the 34 yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Ritz scrambled around left end, cut back across the field and went 24 yards for the go ahead touchdown. The long Ritz punt “flipped” the field position and Northwest took advantage of it to take their first lead of the game.

Ragsdale responded with their only drive of the second half with the big play again coming on a Parker pass reception. Herndon connected with Parker for a 28-yard reception which gave the Tigers a first down at the Northwest 26. Eleazer picked up another first down on a 12-yard burst off right tackle, but the drive stalled, forcing Lucas Hicks to kick a 34-yard field goal to make the score 21-17 in favor of the Vikings.

That four-point deficit lasted all of 15 seconds as the Vikings Reid Baxter fielded the ensuing kickoff at his 9 yard line, burst up the middle through the initial wall of defenders, cut to his left and went 91 yards untouched for the back-breaking touchdown. The Long point after upped the Viking lead to 28-17 and sealed the Tigers’ fate.

With only 9:35 left in the game and unable to move the ball on the ground, the Tigers were forced to go to the air, and that played right into the Vikings’ hand. Baxter, after his TD jaunt, halted the next Tiger drive by picking off a pass. After that, it was the Northwest defensive back Ethan Tingler show. The next three Ragsdale possessions ended with Tingler interceptions as the 6-foot-1-inch senior was a “ball hawk” for the Viking defense. His last interception came with just under two minutes left in the game as he picked off the pass and returned it 42 yards for the last touchdown of the game.

XXAfter picking up 70 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter, Ragsdale was held to a net 15 yards for the rest of the game. Marquez Eleazer was the leading ground-gainer for the Tigers with 93 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Obviously, there were some negative yardage totals for some of the other backs, as Eleazer accounted for all of the yardage in the ground game. The passing game resulted in 215 yards, with sophomore TJ Parker pulling in five catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. Senior Erik Romer had two catches for 52 yards and was also on the receiving end of a two-point conversion. Colson Herndon was 8 of 15 for 215 yards and a touchdown, but when the Tigers got behind and had to force the ball down the field, he suffered four interceptions, all coming in the fourth quarter.

XXNorthwest Guilford used five different backs, running the ball 49 times for 205 yards and picking up 14 first downs. QB Ritz ran for two touchdowns, completed 2 of 4 passes for 42 yards and had a crucial 59-yard punt which pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory. Reid Baxter had 10 carries for 40 yards, picked off a pass and had a 91-yard kickoff return for a score. Senior Kamen Powell was the workhorse, carrying the ball 16 times for 57 yardsü most of them right up the middle. Defensive back Ethan Tingler had three pass interceptions.

With the loss, Ragsdale falls into fifth place in the PTC and now has the week off as they prepare to meet the Glenn Bobcats on the road on Friday, October 19. There are two regular-season games remaining and the Tigers still have a chance to tie for second place. They will need some help, as Northwest will have to lose a game and the Tigers will have to win their remaining two to force a three-way tie for second place. Northwest Guilford will face the winless Parkland Mustangs this Friday before closing out their regular season at home against East Forsyth.

Ragsdale 6 8 0 3 17
Northwest Guilford 0 14 7 14 35

Scoring Summary
First Quarter

R-Marquez Eleazer 29 yard run (kick failed) (9:14)

Second Quarter
R-TJ Parker 38 yard pass from Colson Herndon (Erik Romer pass from Herndon) (11:47)
NW-Anthony Harding 3 yard run (Hunter Long kick) (5:51)
NW-Andrew Ritz 1 yard run (Long kick) (0:15)

Third Quarter
NW-Ritz 24 yard run (Long kick) (1:08)

Fourth Quarter
R-Lucas Hicks 34 yard field goal (9:50)
NW-Reid Baxter 91 yard kick off return (Long kick) (9:35)
NW-Ethan Tingler 42 yard interception return (Long kick) (1:39)

First Downs 9R 14NWG
Rushing Yardage 85R 205NWG
Rushes 28R 49NWG
Passing Yardage 215R 42NWG
Pass Comp/Attempts/Int. 8/15/4R 2/4/0NWG
Punts/Avg. Yards 3/29.3R 4/38.0NWG
Fumbles/Lost 1/1R 2/1NWG
Penalties/Yards 2/25R 4/30NWG
Time of Possession 17:48R 30:12NWG

Piedmont Triad 4A
(Conference – Overall)
East Forsyth 3-0 1.000 8-0
NW Guilford 3-1 .750 6-2
HP Central 2-1 .667 6-2
Glenn 2-1 .667 3-4
Ragsdale 2-2 .500 6-2
SW Guilford 0-3 .000 1-7
Parkland 0-4 .000 0-8

CLICK HERE to see the TJ Parker photo and to see more from Mike….