By Jimmy Espy, General Manager
The Murray County Indians picked up their first road win of the season on Friday, thanks to a standout special teams play and some gutty play calling.
Cade Petty’s block of an extra point attempt in overtime preserved a 17-16 victory over the winless Ringgold Tigers.
Petty, a jack-of-all-trades player, crashed in from the right side of the defense to get a hand on the kick. The block ended the game and set off a raucous celebration by the Indians, who had been in grave danger of letting a badly-needed win get away.
“I just tried to come off the ball as fast as I could,” said Petty. “Our line did its job and opened up a lane for me.”
The win rewarded a bold play call by Coach Chad Brewer. Brewer’s decision to go for it on fourth and 2 in overtime instead of kicking a field goal was a huge call.
“The kids told me they could get it,” Brewer said. “The offensive line looked me in the eye and told me ‘We’re gonna get this!’ so I said ‘Do it.’”
The line bulldozed Ringgold off the ball for a four-yard gain and crucial first down, setting up Petty’s touchdown and what turned out to be Elber Romero’s game-winning PAT kick.
The Indians improved to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the Region 6-AAA, with three region games left to play.
“We have to win our last three games,” said Brewer. “That should get us the fourth playoff spot. It’s not going to be easy, but last year at this time we were 0-7, this year we’re fighting for the playoffs.
Ringgold, injury-riddled and 0-7 on the year, gave the Indians all they could handle.
Murray’s passing game showed some zip. Kaleb Jones completed six of six passes, including a 43-yard TD pass to Davis Redwine.
But the running game faltered. Murray rushed for a paltry 47 yards.
Petty and Jones took turns running the attack but neither had much success on the ground.
“We’ve very inconsistent,” said Brewer. “Some of it is our offensive line being inconsistent, but our quarterbacks are also missing some reads. We’ve got to get better.”
The Indians jumped out 7-0 in the first quarter. A short punt by the Tigers put Murray in business at the Ringgold 44. Carson Voiles pounded inside for a yard before Jones found Redwine behind the cornerback. The throw hit Redwine in stride and he bolted 43 yards for the score.
Romero drilled the PAT.
Romero got the call again on the next possession.
Murray took over at the Tiger 39-yard-line when Tyler Hayes recovered a fumble.
Runs by Petty, Jones and Voiles move the ball to the Tiger 17 before a couple of false start penalties bogged down the drive.
Romero came in and punched through a 35-yarder for a 10-0 advantage.
Excellent defense, including a fine interception by cornerback Jason Rice, looked like it would make that lead stand up until halftime. But disaster struck with just over one minute to go before the intermission.
The Indians had the ball, first and 10, at their 13 but instead of running out the clock they gave up a fumble. The error proved costly when the Tiger quarterback ran eight yards for a touchdown.
Instead of going to the dressing room working on a 10-0 shutout, the Indians left the field with a precarious lead and a suddenly fired up opponent.
Ringgold outgassed Murray for much of the second half.
The Tigers had some success pounding the ball with 205-pound Price Pennington, but the Murray defense kept making key plays, including a pass interception by Wally Underwood that stopped a third-quarter drive.
Ringgold did finally get the equalizer. The Tigers tied the game at 10-10 on a 46-yard field goal.
Regulation play ended with the ball at the Ringgold 2, thanks to a superb 59-yard punt by Gauge Stanley.
Murray opened overtime with possession and made the most of it, though the Tigers gave ground grudgingly.
Facing a fourth and one at the Ringgold 5, Brewer could not have been blamed if he had motioned for his reliable kicker. But Romero remained on the sideline.
Instead, with Cade Petty in at quarterback, the Indians ran a quarterback sneak. Petty bulled for four yards and the first down. The Indians followed with the same play and Petty scored. The offensive line, which had been played to a stalemate or worse all night, won the battle at the line of scrimmage on those two crucial runs. Romero’s PAT was true for a 17-10 lead.
Ringgold wasted no time getting the ball in the hands of Pennington. The rugged back blasted 15 yards through the Murray defense for the TD, silencing the Murray sideline and igniting the home crowd.
But that jubilation turned to silence when Petty stormed through and got a hand on the kick.
“This was a great team win,” Petty said. “Even when they scored, I had faith in my guys to do their job. It was a great win by the whole team.”
Linebacker Gauge Stanley had an outstanding game, racking up 16 tackles, including five tackles for loss … Kaleb Jones was six for six passing for 93 yards … Carson Voiles got his most work of the season, but had his least success. The bruising runner managed 21 yards on eight carries … Taylor Carrell added nine tackles.
Powerful Calhoun (5-1, 3-1) comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. showdown.
The Yellow Jackets, averaging almost 30 points a game, will present a strong challenge to Murray’s usually stubborn defense.