By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – A malfunction in a set of lights at the Ripley’s football field delayed the start of the first game between the Ripley Tigers and Falkner Eagles in 15 years.
When the problem was fixed and the game kicked off more than 30 minutes later than expected, the Tigers started as they have the first two games of the season – fast.
Ripley, the Daily Journal’s No. 1 ranked Class 4A/3A school, quickly reached the end zone on its first three drives for a 20-point lead and cruised to a 54-13 win over Class 1A Falkner in their first meeting since 1998.
Ripley QB Dalton James directed four scoring drives, accounting for all four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 2 and 10 yards and connected with receivers Sedabris Boyd and John Austin Moore on passing TDs of 26 and 28 yards, respectively.
Falkner got on the board with a 47-yard TD run by Jeramie Lawrence with 3:49 remaining in the first quarter.
The score was set up by a blocked Ripley punt by Jase Stroupe, giving the Eagles the ball at the 50-yard line. A drive before that, Falkner got as close as the Ripley 14, but Santerio Prather intercepted Falkner’s Stroupe in the end zone.
They would get no closer.
Ripley (3-0) led 34-6 at the half.
In the first half, Ripley had 10 plays of over 10 yards or more, including four over 25 yards. Ripley had 158 yards rushing, led by Christian Johnson with 67 yards on six carries. James was 8-for-11 for 154 yards and two TDs. He finished the half 12-for-19 for 202 yards. It was his third game to pass for over 200 yards and throw multiple touchdown passes.
Falkner was held to 131 total yards in the first half. Jeremie Lawrence led Falkner (1-2) with seven carries for 88 yards and a TD.
Ripley rounded out the scoring with three TDs in the third quarter: a 24-yard pass from James to Isaiah Howard, a 10-yard run by Ryan Melton and a 25-yard run by Tavion Prather.