PONTOTOC – It was tight game for a while, but the Ripley Tigers’ high-powered offense eventually took over. Ripley scored 21 second-half points Friday to come away with a 35-7 win over the Pontotoc Warriors and move to 6-0 for the first time since 2007.
Tailback Christian Johnson rushed for three touchdowns, while Dalton James completed 16 of 26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown in the win, the first for Ripley in the last five meetings between the two schools.
Ripley took the opening kick off down the field and found the end zone in a mere three plays, with Johnson breaking loose for 60-yard touchdown scamper. However, the Pontotoc defense stepped up and made it tough sledding the rest of the half, helped out along the way by a dropped Tiger pass in the end zone and a muffed punt.
“I would not say we came out sluggish, but we didn’t make many plays offensively in the first half,” Ripley coach Chad Cook said. “We can’t do those things n division play. Give Pontotoc credit, though. They had a good scheme and tried to take away some of the things we do best.”
The Tigers grabbed crucial momentum just before heading into the locker room when Dalton James found Sedabris Boyd for a 22-yard touchdown strike with 9 ticks left, giving Ripley a 14-0 lead.
Johnson put the Tigers up 22-0 on a 10-yard run with 4:31 remaining in the third, but the Warriors (1-5) soon threatened to make it a game of it once again when Sy Holley stepped in front of a James pass and returned it 57 yards to paydirt with 1:01 left in the quarter.
Facing a critical fourth-and-2 with 9:53 left in the game, Johnson looked to be stood up at the line of scrimmage before breaking numerous Warrior tackles on his way to a 42-yard score that essentially put the game away. Garfield Campbell would add the Tigers’ final touchdown on a 4-yard run.
“Our defense played excellent all night,” Cook said. “We adjusted at halftime and finally got into a little rhythm in second half on offense. I am proud of my guys. We have some things to iron out, but 6-0-we’ll take it.”