RIPLEY – The New Albany Bulldogs erased an early 14-point deficit to come from behind and spoil the season opener for the Ripley Tigers, 33-28.
It was the first win for coach Ron Price and the Bulldogs (1-1) in three seasons against Tigers. The Tigers had won 16 of the last 22 meetings.
“These kids have come so close in recent years and just feel short,” said an elated Price who is in just his second season with the Bulldogs. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the kids worked extremely hard and they deserved to get this win. We challenged the kids to get a signature win and we got it tonight against a team that’s ranked third in 3A.”
Ripley began the game scoring on its first two drives, but turnovers on their next two opened the door for New Albany to get back in the game. New Albany quarterback Tyler Basil, who accounted for four of the Bulldogs five touchdowns, connected with Josh Hardin on an 11-yard strike and scored on a 9-yard run to tie the game at 14 with 5:44 to play in the first half.
Basil rushed the ball 10 times for 27 yards and two scores, and was 13-for-19 passing for 136 yards and two more scores.
Ripley retook the lead in the third quarter after a New Albany drive gave them a short field at the 48-yard line. The Bulldogs attempted their second fake punt of the night on 4th-and-2, just inside their own territory at the 48-yard line.
Six plays later, Ripley running back Rashid March scored his second touchdown of the night and after a PAT, the Tigers were back out front 21-14 with 6:09 to go in the quarter.
March led Ripley with 18 rushes for 90 yards and three scores.
The two teams traded scores for the next quarter and a half with the Bulldogs scoring the final touchdown of the night with 50 seconds left in the game. Kareem Brown, who led the Bulldogs with 124 yards on 12 carries scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 9-yard rush on the right side.
“These kids are fighters,” said Price. “We had to fight from behind last week. We got knocked down tonight, but we got back up.”
Ripley coach Mac McCurry said his team didn’t respect New Albany, but they would certainly respect the rest of their opponents this season.
“We didn’t respect them,” said McCurry. “We tried to communicate to our team all week that we had to respect this bunch, but I guess it didn’t get through. I’m just glad God put eyes in the front of our head instead of in the back. We are looking forward.”
Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel