RINGGOLD, Ga. — The Ringgold High School football team continued its current tradition of turnovers.
But the Tigers’ defense forced one in the final minute to secure a 21-15 Region 7-AAA win over visiting Heritage on Friday night.
“We’re having a hard time because of penalties and turnovers,” Ringgold coach Robert Akins said. “We won tonight. That won’t happen down the stretch. We have got to learn how to put people away.”
Heritage pulled within six points on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jake Sampson to Jacob Carter with 48 seconds to go. The Generals recovered an onside kick and received a 15-yard bonus for a personal-foul penalty on Ringgold.
Sampson scrambled for 2 yards, leaving the Generals 34 yards away from victory. He scrambled again on the second play, but Austin Taylor knocked the ball loose and Justin Gregory recovered to seal the win for Ringgold (4-1, 1-0).
“Almost,” Heritage coach Tim James said. “It’s a heart-breaker. Jake did what he could to get us in position to drive for the win. All of our guys fought.”
Ringgold had 11 turnovers in its last two games. Quarterback Josh Moore continued the trend by throwing two first-half interceptions Friday, but neither of them proved too costly.
Moore drove the Tigers to a touchdown with 11 seconds to go before halftime. He was 5-for-8 for 58 yards on the 80-yard drive and floated a perfect fade-route pass to Jerrod Cooper for the score.
Ringgold racked up 228 yards but only seven points in the first half. Its defense limited Heritage to 41 yards and three first downs.
Heritage received a gift in the third quarter when Moore mishandled a handoff to Mark Fairbanks and Jordan Liles recovered the fumble 30 yards from the end zone. But the Generals had to settle for a field goal that cut their deficit to 7-3.
Ringgold responded with another 80-yard drive culminating with a 32-yard pass from Moore to Cooper again, this time for a 14-3 lead.
Sampson guided his own successful drive and finished it with a 16-yard strike to Cody Sherlin. The extra point was blocked, leaving the Generals down 14-9 with 11:55 to go.
Fairbanks, who had 133 rushing yards, gave Ringgold a comfy 21-9 lead on a 4-yard run with 2:02 to go. But Sampson took the Generals (3-2, 0-1) 69 yards in just over a minute with that touchdown toss to Carter before the kick recovery gave them one last gasp.
“Beating a region team is always exciting,” Moore said. “And a cross-county rival, too. That’s exciting.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...