Malachi Maness’ four touchdown runs led the Ragsdale Tigers to a decisive 34-13 victory over the home Grimsley Whirlies at Jamieson Stadium in Greensboro on Friday night.
Maness struggled early. The Ragsdale star back fumbled the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, his third touch of the game, and another when he looked sure to score in the first quarter. All resulted in turnovers.
The fumbles didn’t slow him down, however, as he ran for more than 100 yards in the first quarter and put up the game’s first touchdown.
“The ball was real slippery,” Maness said of his fumbles. “I was trying to tuck the ball and it was just slipping out of my hands.”
The ball wasn’t slippery only for Maness. Grimsley’s La’Quan Nora also had trouble maintaining ball control on carries and fumbled twice in the opening quarter.
The Ragsdale offensive line allowed the Tigers to be successful with their ground game and gave quarterback Devan Boykin time to complete passes.
Maness’ first score of the game came on a 28-yard run midway through the first quarter, giving his team momentum after the two early turnovers.
Grimsley quickly responded, just over a minute later, with a 42-yard pass from Chris Zellous to Chris Wiggins. The Whirlies extra point attempt failed, making the score 7-6 in favor of Ragsdale.
The second quarter was all Tigers, as they maintained possession for all but ten plays in the quarter.
The Tigers made the score 14-6 with 6:02 left in the first half when Maness drove three yards for another touchdown.
Ragsdale head coach Johnny Boykin had a game plan that he wanted executed in the second half, and it involved his potent offensive line and more of Malachi Maness.
“Our offensive line, it starts there,” Boykin said. “We challenged those guys at the half that we needed to gain control of this game by running the football. They stepped up, and that’s what we were able to do.”
The Tigers answered the call from their coaches and scored two rushing touchdowns, both by Maness, at the 6:06 and 3:15 marks of the third quarter. The first was a 20-yard scamper that pushed the Tiger lead to 21-6 and, following another Grimsley score, Maness found the promised land once again from 10 yards out.
Grimsley showed resilience in the third quarter as they battled penalties that were questionable, and the combination of Zellous to Wiggins once again lit the scoreboard for the Whirlies making the tally 21-13.
Grimsley attempted to convert on fourth down five times without success.
The final score of the game came with just 2:28 remaining when Devan Boykin rushed the final five yards into the end zone to make it 34-13.
Coach Boykin was happy to gain his team’s first conference win.
“We came wanting to get a win and bottom line is we got the victory,” he said.
“Malachi has been battling some nutritional problems and was a little anxious to get back in there, did a little too much too early, but he’s our guy and we’re going to stay with him.”
Maness got a boost from his teammates that lifted him to the next level.
“I feel like I didn’t have a real good game in the first half,” Maness said. “My teammates kept motivating me and picking me up and the second half I came out and gave it all I could.”
Maness, arguably the best player on the field Friday finishing with more than 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns, gave credit to the offensive line for his success.
“My ‘O-line’ was blocking downfield opening up gaps so I could hit them,” he said.
The Tigers go into their bye-week after a resounding victory that improves their overall record to (5-3, 1-0), one that will undoubtedly give them momentum as they take on Northwest Guilford at home on Oct. 20th.
The Whirlies, (2-6, 0-1), will look to improve from the loss tonight and get their first conference win next Friday night when they host conference foe High Point Central for their homecoming game and Senior Night.
(R) Malachi Maness 28 run (Thomas Vernon kick)
(G) Chris Wiggins 42 pass from Chris Zellous (kick failed)
(R) Maness 3 run (Vernon kick)
(R) Maness 20 run (Vernon kick)
(G) Wiggins 28 pass from Zellous (Bentley Faulkner kick)
(R) Maness 10 run (kick failed)
(R) Devan Boykin 5 run (Vernon kick)
Chris Zellous- (19-28) 247yds, 2TD
Chris Wiggins- 11 rec 185yds, 2TD
La’Quan Nora- 19 car 127yds
Devan Boykin- (11-20) 174yds, INT; 10car 60yds, TD
Malachi Maness- 28 car 224 yds, 4TD
Tre Goode- 4rec 104yds