Tigers bounce back, blow past Patriots

RIPLEY – The Ripley Tigers captured their first win of the season by rolling up 279 rushing yards in the second half to blow past the Lewisburg Patriots 70-28 at Tiger Stadium.

This was the second of four straight Class 4A opponents the Tigers will face to start the 2009 season.

The Tiger defense yielded 21 unanswered points and squandered a 28-7 second-quarter lead, but bounced back after halftime. In the second half, Ripley’s Wing-T offense scored 42 unanswered points and the defense held the Patriots to minimal gains to get the win.

Turnover woes from last week’s loss to New Albany plagued the Tigers again. Two first half fumbles allowed Lewisburg to hang around. The Tigers were on the verge of scoring their fifth touchdown of the half when Patriot defensive back Johnny Taylor picked up a Devin Jones fumble at the goal line and returned it 99 yards to cut the lead to 28-21 with 3:58 left in the second quarter.

“We kind of settled down in the second half and held on to the ball,” said McCurry, who’s team had a total of four turnovers, all fumbles.

When the Tigers held onto the ball, they rushed the ball 45 times for 476 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“We’ve got a lot of upperclassmen that are big strong guys that block well, and then we’ve got some very talented sophomores,” McCurry said.

“When we get those sophomores to hold on to the ball, we’ll finish a lot of offensive drives with a score. Tiger quarterback Acie Vance, who had only one carry in the season opener, carried the ball eight times for 78 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots. Vance scored on runs of 20 and 22 yards in the first half, and added an 8-yard run in the third quarter. He also had one of five interceptions by the Tigers.

“Acie’s got some talent for any level, and anytime he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s got the opportunity to score,” McCurry said. “We’ll have to utilize him more as we move ahead.”

Sophomore wing back Tony Hernandez kept pace with Vance by scoring three touchdowns on 10 carries for 86 yards. Hernandez also contributed by kicking 8-of-9 extra points.

“We really just wore down,“ said Lewisburg head coach Mark Hogan.

“Their running game will wear you down a lot defensively, and we just got one-dimensional, too. We got to wear we couldn’t do anything but try and throw it.”

After rushing the ball for 79 yards and two scores in the first half, the Patriot offense was held to just 35 yards on 14 carries in the second. Patriot quarterback Colby Sappington passed for 88 yards in the first half with a touchdown – a 27-yarder to Patrick Rivers that tied the game at 28. In the second half he passed for 19 yards and threw four interceptions.

“We didn’t quit and I’m proud of the way that our kids fought,” Hogan said. “We’re young and this is our third-year playing football. I’ll take being tied at halftime with a team like Ripley with a lot tradition – and they’ve had a lot of good teams and they have one now – as a little bit of a victory.”

Ripley’s Rashid March led all rushers with 14 carries for 107 yards and a score, while Devin Jones rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 19 yards. Justin Terry made the most of his opportunity to play in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 63-yard run; his only carry of the game.

For Lewisburg, D’Andre Hampton led with 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns on runs of 41 and 6 yards.

Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel