BOONEVILLE – After threats of rain postponed a showdown with Ripley by three days, the Blue Devils kept their unblemished record intact with a thrilling victory against the divisional rival Tigers, 20-18.
In a drama-filled fourth quarter, Booneville (6-0, 2-0) had to first rely on its offense for some breathing room before turning to its defense to save the day.
With 11 minutes, 57 seconds to play in regulation, the Blue Devils extended their slim 13-12 lead to 20-12 on a 1-yard scoring plunge by Bo Brown – his third scoring run of the game.
Then with 1:25 left, the focus turned to Booneville’s defense.
After Ripley’s Acie Vance closed the gap to 20-18 on a 53-yard scamper, the Blue Devils’ defense thwarted the Tigers’ comeback hopes with a stop on the ensuing two-point conversion.
“Year after year, Booneville plays better defense against us than they do against anybody else,” said Ripley coach Mac McCurry, whose team fell to 2-5, 0-2. “We’ve never had any 38 or 40 point games in the six years that I have played them.”
It was the kind of game legendary Booneville coach Jim Drewry expected.
‘We beat a good team’
“We knew it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out because it’s Ripley,” he said. “I thought our kids were prepared, and we executed better than we have all year. Ripley is an outstanding ball club; the best 2-5 team in the state. We slopped through it all night and made plays when we needed too, but we beat a good team.”
The Blue Devils bolted out to a 13-0 lead following touchdown runs by Brown of 3 and 1 yards, respectively.
But with 11 seconds remaining in the half, Ripley got back in the game when Devin Jones found the end zone form 3 yards out to make it a 13-6 affair.
In the third quarter, the Tigers pulled within one at 13-12 on an 18-yard scoring strike from Vance to Tony Black, but another missed extra-point attempt kept Ripley from evening the score.
Still, the Tigers kept fighting and had the Booneville faithful on the edge of their seats following Vance’s scoring run.
“I thought we had him over there on their side, but he made a great play,” Drewry said of Vance’s run. “He’s an outstanding athlete. The defense stepped up on the two-point try and made a play when we needed it. I thought the defense played well tonight.”
Vance finished with 79 rushing yards on 12 carries, while Black added 81. Vance also threw for 70 yards on 5-of-6 passing as Ripley totaled 293 yards of offense.
Booneville, which is now tied with Corinth in the Division 1-3A standings, manufactured 223 yards of offense, with Brown accounting for 104 of those yards on the ground.
Contributing: Kedrick Storey, Southern Sentinel
NEMS Daily Journal