By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – The Ripley defense was dominating from the opening kick, the offense cranked up after a quarter and a half and the Tigers rolled past the New Albany Bulldogs 33-0 to take the Highway 15 Rivalry game for the first time since 2008.
Ripley entered having lost four straight in the series and Ripley coach Chad Cook said his team was trying to score 80 points and make up for the losses on their opening drives which stalled on three straight possessions. They failed to score in the first quarter for only the second time all season.
“We were trying to score 80 points on the first play instead of getting five yards,” Cook said. “But give New Albany credit. That first half they were going toe-to-toe with us. Mississippi State-Ole Miss, Alabama-Auburn, you can throw the records out. They came to play. I think once we got on them it eased up”
New Albany intercepted Dalton James on Ripley’s first drive. They also forced two turnovers on downs. The Bulldogs, who couldn’t get going offensively all night, fared no better.
Ripley broke through in the second quarter with an 11-play, 68-yard drive. Christian Johnson, who finished with a game-high 146 yards on 22 carries, scored form 1-yard out for a 6-0 lead. After punts by both teams, Ripley forced a New Albany turnover at their 26-yard line. Ripley quarterback Dalton James would hit John Austin Moore on a pair of passes, his second a 19-yard fade for a 12-0 halftime advantage.
‘Lights out’ effort
Ripley (10-1, 4-1) limited New Albany to 24 total yards in the first half, with minus-3 on the ground.
“I thought the defense played lights out,” added Cook.
James, and the Ripley defense continued their prowess in the second half. James tossed three touchdown passes, one each to Isaiah Howard, Sedabris Boyd and Brady Lewellen, while the defense was just as stingy, recording two second half sacks on New Albany’s Bryce Collins for four on the night. Ripley outgained New Albany 502-70. James accounted for 237 yards on 15-of-29 passing with four touchdowns.
“Ripley’s got a great football team. Our guys came out and battled, but Ripley just had too many weapons,” New Albany coach Ron Price said.