It was a big night for Ringgold quarterback Slade Dale and a bigger night for the Tigers football program.
Ringgold defeated North Hall 55-54 in the first round of the playoffs on Friday, with Dale accounting for 380 total yards and seven touchdowns. Dale, a senior who will play baseball at the University of Georgia, ran 22 times for 162 yards and four touchdowns and completed 11 of 21 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
The win gave the school a ninth win for only the second time (the other coming in 1989) and is believed to be the first playoff win in school history. Ringgold made the playoffs on six previous occasions, including last year, but lost in the first round.
Neither Ringgold nor North Hall could stop the other team. North Hall ran for 467 yards and threw for 55, while Ringgold ran for 268 and threw for 218. North Hall’s Zac Little carried 31 times for 267 yards and two touchdowns and Andrew Smith ran 16 times for 108 yards and one touchdown.
“To me this is Ringgold’s biggest win ever because it’s a playoff game,” Ringgold coach Robert Atkins told the Chattanooga Free Press “This was a rough night for our defense. Trying to tackle (North Hall’s Andrew) Smith was like trying to tackle a squirrel.”
The wild game was tied 35-35 at halftime and the teams exchanged three touchdowns. Ringgold took the lead for good when Dale scored on a 14-yard run with 1:43 remaining and the Abel Vargas made the extra point. North Hall’s PAT on the previous touchdown had hit the crossbar.
North Hall rushed downfield for one final try, but a 45-yard field goal attempt with 19 seconds left to play also hit the crossbar and bounced away.
“All we needed was one stop and we couldn’t get it,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas told WGTJ-AM’s Gary Glenn in an on-field interview after the game.
Ringgold will host Cedar Grove in the second round next week.
Here’s what else we learned on Friday night:
Region 6 is the real deal. All four teams representing the region won their first-round games, making it the only league in AAA to score a sweep. The victim was Region 8, which was considered to have a very strong playoff contingent.
No. 4 Carver survives upset. The Tigers needed three overtimes to overcome B.E.S.T. Academy, which was making its postseason debut. Quarterback Jawon Pass threw a 10-yard touchdown to Drellon Freeman to secure the 38-32 win. The Carver defense then forced a turnover when B.E.S.T. got the ball back for its final time in overtime.
Pass threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead Carver (10-1), which will host Jefferson County in the second round. DeShawn Waller ran for three touchdowns for B.E.S.T., which was done in by three missed extra points.
Peach County wins thriller: Quarterback Greg Williams scored on a 15-yard keeper with only 45 seconds left to give the Trojans a 28-21 win over Chapel Hill. Williams threw for 148 yards and Keshawn Lowe rushed for 138 yards for Peach. Aaron Jeffries led Chapel Hill with 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Appling rolls over Dodge: Vernon Dasher ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 67 yards and C.J. Alexander returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to lead No. 9 Appling to a 30-8 win over Dodge County. The Pirates (9-2) will host Central Carroll in the second round.
Cartersville gets past West Hall: Cartersville hung on for a 28-26 win when West Hall’s 41-yard field goal missed wide left in the closing seconds. Cartersville (11-0) scored twice on runs by Tiamon Perry. West Hall, making its first playoff appearance since 2002, scored on Ty Statham’s 95-yard kickoff return and Tyquan Statham’s 80-yard interception return.
Next week’s second round games: