RIPLEY – Ripley coach Chad Cook said before his Tigers kicked off with the visiting Itawamba AHS Indians that he was anxious to see how his team would react in the first quarter.
He liked what he saw.
The Tigers opened up a quick 20-7 lead Friday night and rolled to a 45-14 season-opening victory.
“I thought we started really fast, and that’s our whole thing. I thought we were mentally locked in, and that first half was pretty good football.”
Ripley quarterback Cody James had a huge first half, going 9-for-12 for 182 yards. He connected with Brady Lewellen for a 33-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring. A series later he added a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Christian Johnson, who will share snaps with James under center this season, got in the mix with a 51-yard TD pass to Isaiah Howard on a trick play to round out the first quarter scoring. Howard hauled in an 11-yard pass from James in the fourth quarter and ended the night with five grabs for 126 yards. James finished 12-of-16 for 216 in his first start at quarterback.
defense joins in
Ripley’s defense got in on the scoring when Antonio Mullins scooped up a IAHS fumble at the five in the second quarter. Following an IAHS score in the third quarter, Ripley cornerback Vonte Jones intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 45 yards for a score to make it 38-14.
“I thought the second half we kind of got lethargic, but with it being the first game of the year, scoring 45 points and the defense scored twice, overall I’m pleased,” added Cook.
Ripley limited IAHS to 189 yards of total offense. The Indians’ only scores came on Ripley miscues – a fumbled punt and bad snap – that set them up inside Ripley’s 10-yard line.
“Ripley’s a good football team. They’ve got some playmakers over there. We had some bad things happen to us early and they were the cause. We never rebounded mentally or physically,” said Indians coach Toby Collums.