The Southwest Guilford Cowboys hadn’t beaten the Ragsdale Tigers in 18 years until Friday night. It wasn’t pretty, by any means, but at the end of the game, the “Cowboy Crazies” rushed the field to celebrate with the victorious home team.
At halftime, most would’ve guessed that Southwest was going to have to wait another year to get a victory over rival Ragsdale. The Cowboys were down 6-0 in a game that was being dominated by both teams’ defense.
In the first half, the Cowboys made it to the red zone twice; once foregoing a field goal and attempting a pass on fourth and 11. Their second trip inside the Tigers’ twenty-yard line ended when Cowboys quarterback Jaren Rainey threw an interception on the 9-yard line.
Ragsdale wasn’t having much success in the red zone either, being forced to kick two field goals and having a touchdown called back due to a penalty.
In the third quarter, Ragsdale went three-and-out on their only three possessions.
Southwest’s defense had stepped it up.
Quarterback Jaren Rainey was 6-7 for 158 yards passing and had a seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter alone.
On Southwest’s second possession of the fourth quarter, things started to get interesting. Quarterback Jaren Rainey fumbled the ball on the 11-yard line, and Trevon McIntyre recovered for Ragsdale, giving them the ball on the Cowboys’ three-yard line.
The Cowboys’ defense stopped Ragsdale star running back Jarious Drayton three times, and the Tigers were once again forced to kick a field goal with 7:22 remaining in the game.
On the Cowboys’ ensuing drive after five plays, Jaren Rainey lobbed up a bomb to his favorite receiver, Jeremiah Brown, who caught the pass for a 39-yard touchdown. Southwest took the lead, and the way things looked, had the game in the bag.
The defense did its job, as it had all night, and got the ball back to the offense with a minute and a half remaining in the game. The home-team fans were prematurely celebrating the victory when Southwest head coach Eric Rainey called a reverse play that Senior Emmanuel Dines fumbled at the 50-yard line. Ragsdale’s Alex Illescas recovered and took it to the house for the touchdown. Ragsdale had regained the lead with a mere 41.4 seconds left in the game.
Cowboy fans were stunned, in utter disbelief that Ragsdale was going to beat them and keep the streak going once again. All of the air had been let out of Southwest’s balloon.
“We practiced that play a lot, but we don’t call it much. We just didn’t execute,” head coach Eric Rainey said about his decision to call such a risky play with the lead and only 40 seconds left on the clock.
The Southwest faithful were brought back to their feet, however, when quarterback Jaren Rainey completed a 28-yard pass to DJ Gray, who quickly got out of bounds on the first play after the fumble recovery that gave the visiting Ragsdale Tigers the lead.
Rainey, who was 6-6 for 117 yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, lead the Cowboys down the field, and with just 15.2 seconds remaining in the game, rushed the ball up the middle for a stunning comeback, retaking the lead for Southwest.
The Cowboys held onto the 21-15 lead and beat their rivals, the Tigers of Ragsdale, for the first time since 1997.
“It was a great game. The kids fought hard and played tough. We knew we had our work cut out for us coming into this game. We made some mistakes down the stretch, but this team refused to believe they were going to lose this game,” Southwest head coach Eric Rainey said. “I’m just so happy for the kids. They’re such a selfless group. They do everything we ask.”
“This is an unbelievable feeling and such a blessing,” said Cowboy receiver and Wake Forest commit Jeremiah Brown. “I never thought we would get here, so it feels great.”
Ragsdale coach Tommy Noorwood thought his team “missed a lot of opportunities on offense. It shouldn’t have come down to the last minute if we had executed on those missed opportunities. We didn’t have a go-to guy.”
The Tigers fall to (1-7) on the season with the loss, and Southwest improves to (3-5) with the win.
Although many, including national media, believed a Greensboro-based rivalry was stronger, Southwest Guilford versus Ragsdale turned out to be the game of the night, and possibly the season.
Score by Quarter
RAG 0 6 0 9---15 SWG 0 0 7 14—21
Ragsdale-FG Greyson Collins 31
Ragsdale-FG Collins 30
Southwest Guilford-TD Jaren Rainey 5 run (Chase Bradshaw Kick)
Ragsdale-FG Collins 19
Southwest Guilford-TD Jeremiah Brown 39 pass from Rainey (Bradshaw Kick)
Ragsdale-TD Alex Illescas 50 Fumble Recovery (2-pt Conversion Failed)
Southwest Guilford-TD Rainey 14 run (Bradshaw Kick)
Southwest Offensive Leaders:
Jaren Rainey 18-23 358yds, 1 INT, 1 TD, 1 Rushing TD
Jeremiah Brown 8 Rec for 243 yds, 1 TD