By Jay Tidwell
Special to the Journal
RIPLEY – Ripley was in control of the game before the homecoming court made it to its seats.
John Austin Moore returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and the Tigers scored twice more in the first quarter on their way to a 33-6 win in their homecoming game against Senatobia on Friday.
“I knew we had to play ball and come out and set the tone” said Moore, a senior, who had returned a kick 98 yards for a TD against North Pontotoc. “As soon as I caught the ball, I just took off.”
Quarterback Dalton James led Ripley (8-0, 2-0 in Div. 2-4A) on a 67-yard drive on its next possession and finished with a 4-yard keeper. The following drive only took one play – a 67-yard catch-and-run from James to Moore for a 19-0 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the period.
“Offensively, we came out and struck quick, then defensively, it was three-and-out again and again,” said Ripley coach Chad Cook. “I was really pleased with that first quarter.”
James, a senior, finished with 14-of-21 passing for 236 yards with one TD and one INT. Christian Johnson had 17 carries for 137 yards, including a 7-yard scoring run in the third quarter for Ripley.
Sedabris Boyd finished a 73-yard drive with a 10-yard sprint with 10:21 showing in the fourth to give the Tigers a 33-0 lead.
Ripley, ranked No. 1 in 4A/3A by the Journal and No. 2 statewide in 4A, held Senatobia (1-6, 0-2) to 86 yards of total offense and only four first downs.
The Warriors’ lone points came after they recovered a fumbled punt-return deep in Ripley’s territory. Courtland Barnes scored on a 3-yard run with 4:22 left in regulation.
“Early in the game we let it get out of hand, and what a good team they are,” said Senatobia coach Phil Oakley about the Tigers. “You can’t spot them like that, and we’ve been struggling.”