***My Apologies for the late post, I had a computer issue and lost my story last night***
There’s something about playing at Kenneth T. Miller Stadium that brings out the best in the 2016 Ragsdale Tigers. Ragsdale was looking to bounce back from dropping its conference opener to Northwest Guilford on Monday – rescheduled from Friday 10/7/16 – where they lost 34-28. Friday, freshman Defensive Back and Wide Receiver, Devan Boykin who led the Tigers in their 20-19 victory over Southwest Guilford with a 43-yard punt return, many tackles, and intercepted Cowboys quarterback Jaren Rainey on Southwest’s 18-yard line. Dominick Parker and Malachi Maness also added a touchdown a-piece for the Tigers.
Both teams had only three days to prepare for Friday night’s match-up, due to their games being postponed to Monday 10/10/16 due to the flooding and pouring rain from Hurricane Matthew.
Although both teams lost on Monday, on paper, Southwest was the favorite – starting (6-0)—and seemed to have momentum on their side after coming back from a 36-6 halftime deficit to Glenn on Monday to make the score 43-42, before losing 50-42. The team showed how capable it is to put up astronomical numbers and showed incredible heart.
Ragsdale was back at home Friday after losing to Northwest Guilford on Monday. The Tiger faithful showed up in masses, along with many, many fans from Southwest, since this is such a big rivalry and the schools are only about three miles apart.
The Cowboys received the ball in the first quarter after Ragsdale won the coin toss and deferred.
The Cowboys first drive was only a minute and 19 seconds. Malachi Maness sacked Rainey for a loss of ten yards, and on the next play, Rainey threw an interception that was received by Niante Woods. That interception didn’t yield any points for the Tigers, but seemed to put a slow leak in Southwest’s momentum.
The final two minutes of the first quarter got really interesting. On the third play of Southwest’s drive after a Tigers punt, Cowboys QB Jaren Rainey threw his second of two interceptions. We were unable to identify who picked off Rainey’s pass.
When Ragsdale took over after the Rainey interception, Ragsdale’s Eric Williams threw an interception to Malik Green.
Southwest took over on their own 25-yard line. Rainey completed passes to DJ Gray for 41 yards, and another to Jakobe Harris for 28 yards. Bryson Jumper had 4 carries for 12 yards – the biggest on fourth-and-one from the seven yard line. The Cowboys faced First-and-Goal. Once again, the drive was to no avail and Jaren Rainey fumbled the ball on the five yard line. The third turnover for Rainey in the first half.
The only score of the first half for Ragsdale was when freshman Devan Boykin returned a punt return 43 yards for a touchdown with 5:24 left to play before halftime.
The freshman credited his blockers and the wall they built to hold back the Cowboys for his punt return for a touchdown.
“When I caught the ball, I saw the right side of the field was open and I saw my blockers had a wall up,” Boykin said. “When I saw daylight, I headed for the end zone.”
Boykin’s touchdown gave the Tigers momentum as they headed into the locker room for halftime, with the score knotted at seven.
Momentum was on the Tigers side going into halftime.
Ragsdale received the second half kickoff, and visited the red zone, but once again, weren’t able to put any points on the board. The Tigers were held scoreless in the third quarter. On the Cowboys 19 yard line, facing 3rd-and-3 Williams threw an incomplete pass, and facing 4th-and-3 just a play later, Eric Williams was sacked by Sean McIntosh for a loss of ten yards, turning the ball over on downs.
Southwest took advantage of their red zone appearance in the 3rd after DJ Gray rushed 17 yards to get the first down, before being brought down at the 10 yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, Rainey threw a bullet, and hooked up with AJ Allen to break the tie, and give the ‘Boys a 14-7 lead.
That was the end of the action in the 3rd quarter, but Ragsdale was playing in front of its home crowd, which has made a big difference this year. The comeback win over Southeast had to be on the minds of the Ragsdale fans in Kenneth T. Miller Stadium.
The Tigers players, and even head coach Tommy Norwood eluded to their success at home this season.
“The surroundings, family, student section, and everybody showing out,” Devan Boykin said. “This is the time of my life, and what we do at Ragsdale.”
“Somebody told me that we were (3-1) at (home) and I didn’t know that until they told me,” Norwood said. “You can’t wear your blue (home) jerseys on the road, it’s a $500 fine, but we might wear them until we get there and then take them off,” he joked.
Ragsdale gained needed momentum with 7:40 remaining in the game when Boykin recovered a fumble by Southwest quarterback Jaren Rainey on Ragsdale’s 18 yard line. Boykin had a short return, taking the ball to the 13.
The offense came back on the field for just two plays.
Malachi Maness had his number called both times. The first, a 10-yard rush, giving the Tigers 1st-and-goal on the three yard line. The next play was another handoff to Maness and he broke through the line, which he has become famous for this season, and into the end zone to give the Tigers the lead for the first time in the game – 14-13.
Southwest’s final score came on a 14 play drive that started at their own 25 yard line. Jaren Rainey rushed most of the drive, and we saw a pass from AJ Allen to Bryson Jumper, something that head coach Eric Rainey is famous for – mixing things up to try to catch the defense on their heels.
The Cowboys were facing 4th-and-one on the Ragsdale 11 yard line, and drew Ragsdale offside. The infraction gave the ‘Boys first-and-goal on the 6 yard line. This penalty became costly, as the Cowboys handed the ball off to Jumper on the next play, who put Southwest back in front 19-14. The two-point conversion failed, and there was 2:14 left in the game.
Just as Ragsdale did against Southeast, the Tigers responded quickly and scored when Eric Williams found Dominick Parker for a 15-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining. Miller Stadium erupted. Fans were overjoyed.
Ragsdale just had to hold Southwest’s high-scoring offense to preserve the win, and become 3-1 at their home field this season. Without much trouble, the Tigers kept Southwest from scoring and pulled off their first Piedmont-Triad 4A Conference victory of the year.
Although there were a total of six turnovers between the two teams and a fumble that was recovered by the offense, it was one of the most exciting games so far this season.
There must just be something about Kenneth T. Miller Stadium that brings the best out in the Ragsdale Tigers. Pitching a shutout against Northeast Guilford on 9/2/16, a strong Southeast two weeks ago –by three points—on 9/30, and pulling off a one-point victory over (6-1) , (0-1) Southwest on Friday is big for the Tigers.
“You have to be very, very proud of the team, because they had every opportunity to fold,” Norwood said of his team continuing to battle. “It was a big win for our team, a big win for our school, and a big win for our students. It was great to see the students come out on the field after the game. They haven’t had a chance to do that in a while.”
Norwood also praised Devan Boykin’s performance.
“What can you say about freshman Devan Boykin,” he said. “He made a tremendous amount of plays for a 9th grader. A huge interception, and play after play.”
Coach Eric Rainey wasn’t very happy with the outcome.
“It was a lack of execution starting from the first play,” Coach Rainey said. “They didn’t make many mistakes. I didn’t expect them to, though, they are a very well coached team. We had several turnovers, and whenever you give them the ball when they’re not supposed to have (the ball) good things generally are not going to happen.”
“When we can sustain drives on offense, let our defense rest up and come back and play well. That’s been the run of success in the first six games. We haven’t been able to get back to that in our last two games, which is disappointing.”
Southwest Guilford has fallen to (6-2) , (0-2) in the last two games, which have both been in conference play. The Cowboys have to get back to their winning ways, and come prepared when they make the trek to Kernersville to meet a formidable East Forsyth team, who is (7-1) , (2-0).
Ragsdale’s victory improves their record to (3-5) , (1-1). The Tigers travel to Simeon Stadium on Friday to take on the Bison of High Point Central, who are led by leading area rusher Chavis Little, and others. The Bison are (3-5) , (0-2) on the season and will be looking to get their first conference win of the year.
Ragsdale has to find a way to win on the road. Will it come this Friday night?
</pre>1 2 3 4 – Final
SWG- 7 0 6 6 – 19
RAG- 0 7 0 13 – 20<pre\>
SWG- Bryson Jumper 28 pass from Jaren Rainey (Chase Bradshaw kick)
RAG- Devan Boykin 43 punt return (Thomas Vernon kick)
SWG- AJ Allen 9 pass from Rainey (kick failed)
RAG- Malachi Maness 3 run (Vernon kick)
SWG- Jumper 6 run (pass failed)
RAG- Dominick Parker 15 pass from Eric Williams (pass failed)
AJ Allen: 7 rec 76yds, TD – (1-1) 15yds
Jaren Rainey: (18-32) 257yds, 2TD, 2INT, 2 Lost Fumbles – 21 car 31yds
Bryson Jumper: 14 car 43yds, TD – 2 rec 42yds, TD
Jakobe Harris: 2 rec 48yds
DJ Gray: 3 rec 49yds
Eric Williams: (12-20) 97yds, TD, 2 INT – 3 car, -24yds
Jarious Drayton: 16 car 64yds
Dominick Parker: 5 rec 38yds, TD
Malachi Maness: 8 car 55yds, TD
Devan Boykin: 43yd punt return for TD