RINGGOLD — Each time North Murray got within a touchdown, Ringgold had an answer.
His name was Slade Dale, and he saved one of his best games for his old offensive coordinator.
Twice the Mountaineers were a defensive stop away from having a chance to take the lead, and twice Dale, Ringgold’s senior quarterback, and the Tigers found the end zone en route to a 35-15 Region 5-3A victory, spoiling David Gann’s first game coaching his new school against his old one.
Gann, who graduated a Tiger in 1990 and was an offensive coordinator at Ringgold from 2007 to 2011, said his Mountaineers got outplayed “in all phases of the game.”
“They outcoached us, outplayed us and outhustled us,” Gann said. “We made a lot more mistakes than they did.”
Running back Jacob Mays scored on a 39-yard run on the fourth play of the second quarter to bring North Murray to within a 14-9 deficit, but Dale and Dalton transfer D.L. Goins — who played for the Catamounts in last week’s win over Northwest Whitfield — responded, with Goins scoring from 5 yards out with 5:05 left in the third quarter.
After the extra point was no good, and with North Murray (4-3, 1-3) down 20-9 to start the fourth quarter, quarterback Brady Swilling used the second play to carry Ringgold (4-3, 2-2) defenders into the end zone from 24 yards away, part of his 133-yard rushing day. The two-point conversion failed, but North Murray again was within five points, trailing 20-15.
“We couldn’t stop them when we got to just one score,” Gann said. “He’s a tough runner, and that’s not the first time he’s done that.”
Thanks to Dale’s 48-yard run — part of his 288 rushing yards — the Tigers scored in seven plays, with Goins punching it in on fourth-and-goal from the 1. A two-point conversion made it 28-15 with 8:24 left, and Ringgold scored again on a 4-yard keeper by Dale with 3:48 left.
Dale finished with 368 all-purpose yards. His first two scores — a 39-yard run and a 16-yard pass to Dallas McGee — gave Ringgold a 14-2 halftime lead. His only mistake was an interception to Hinton McConkey at the end of the first half.
“He’s one of those kids who you want to put the ball in his hands because you know he’s going to make good decisions,” Ringgold coach Robert Akins said.
Gann tried to gain the upper hand in the chess match with an onside kick to start the game, but Ethan Dalton recovered it for Ringgold.
“It bounced right to them, and their kid made a good play,” Gann said. “That’s part of this game is taking chances.”
With Ringgold ahead 7-0, North Murray tried to respond with a touchdown, but Christian Bukle fumbled inside the Tigers’ 5-yard line with 2:11 left in the first quarter. Three plays later, Ringgold was called for holding in the end zone and the play was ruled a safety for the Mountaineers defense. It was one of nine first-half penalties on the Tigers.
Mays finished with 57 yards rushing and Swilling added 113 yards passing. Ringgold collected more than 450 yards on offense, with all but 80 coming on the ground.