CALHOUN, Ga. -- Guiding his offense through a penalty-filled landscape for three touchdown drives of 70-plus yards, Ringgold's Slade Dale and determined defense laid a surprising shutout on Sonoraville on the latter's homecoming night, 30-0.
Dale, who rushed for 186 yards, accounted for more than 250 yards of offense to help knock off the Phoenix, who were tied with Ringgold and Cartersville atop Region 5-AAA coming into the game.
"We feel Sonoraville has a good team both offensively and defensively, especially on offense," Ringgold coach Robert Akins said. "They put up close to 800 yards over their last two games (both region wins), but I felt we contained them tonight."
Lead by the ever-developing Zach Morris, who had four tackles for loss and a sack for a safety, the Tigers held the Phoenix (2-4, 2-1) to 139 total yards. The home team had only one first-half first down, that coming with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter on a trick play.
The Tigers (5-1, 3-0) wasted no time marching down the field. The game-opening drive took 70 yards and nine plays, Dale hitting completions of 15 and 22 yards to his right-hand man, Kile Sholl.
Dale, who has been the Tigers' leading ball carrier all season, got it in close on 12 -yard run augmented by a facemask tackle, setting up the touchdown for Ethan Dalton (getting the start over nicked-up D.L. Goins). After a three-and-out, Ringgold rolled back into the end zone on just four plays -- the longest a 47-yard scramble by Dale -- before Sholl went the final 14.
A determined effort by the Sonoraville defense, led by senior linebacker Jake Harford, put Dale on his backside a couple of times and slowed the pace of the game. But toward the end of the second quarter, a booming 42-yard punt by Chris Watts stuck the Phoenix up against their own goal line, and Morris wrapped up Sonoraville quarterback Cody Long for a safety.
The Phoenix recovered their onside free kick but had to kick it away following another stalled series. Dale hit tight end Dallas McGee for 19 yards, and then McGee saved fullback Dakota Baer's bacon with a fumble recovery on the 2. Goins, despite limited action in the game, scored on the next play, his ninth touchdown of the season.
Sonoraville pulled out a couple of trick plays to open up their offense, but a 30-yard touchdown pass was wiped out by a holding penalty.
Ringgold's first drive of the third quarter was marred by the collapse of lineman Ryan Emmert on the field following a 25-yard Dale-to-Goins pass. The senior tackle was taken off on a stretcher and his condition was not immediately known.
The drive was further tainted when a Sholl touchdown run of 33 yards was called back for holding, but Dale was able to cure much of the ill feeling with a hard-nosed 28-yard run, blasting through three people at the post for the final touchdown of the night.
"He took a helmet in the back far behind the play," Akins said. "I didn't see it, but one of my assistants did. He had some numbness in his feet, but it was more of a precaution than anything. I think he'll be all right.'
The Tigers have a fall break off-week due, so he and his teammates have an extra seven days to heal. And to enjoy this one.
Sholl rushed for 86 yards and caught passes for 37.
Contact David Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
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