RINGGOLD, Ga.-- Adversity is nothing new to the Ringgold Tigers, so a 10-point deficit with nine minutes to play on the road against your crosstown rival is nothing. Right?
The Tigers overcame this latest bump in the road to tie the Region 7-AAA game at Heritage at 13 on Adam Ray's field goal as time in regulation expired, then won it 20-19 when Shaun Anderson scored on a 15-yard overtime run and Ray was true on his point-after kick. Heritage's Dustin Lewis had hit the left upright following the Generals' score on the first overtime possession.
The rally was something Ringgold coach Robert Akins believes came from all the heartache suffered and the togetherness gained in the past few months.
"I was just proud of our kids for just fighting back when they could have laid down, but they didn't," Akins said. "It really showed their character and our integrity and resiliency after everything that's happened to us."
The Tigers (4-1, 1-0) had double the time of possession and outgained the Generals 372 to 171, including 274 yards on 49 rushed. Anderson, who scored from 1 yards out with six minutes remaining to close the gap to three points, led the way with 147 yards on 21 carries. His overtime touchdown came on the Tigers' first extra play.
"This means everything," Anderson said. "We were down and we looked each other int he face and said, 'It's only us that can win this game,' so we did. I noticed all their linebackers were slanting to the left every time I ran the ball, so I cut right and no one was there and I scored."
Ringgold held a 3-0 lead at halftime but could muster only Ray's 34-yard field goal despite running 24 plays to Heritage's three in the second quarter.
"I was concerned after that because we should have gotten more," Akins said. "But we were playing well, and though we had a lull in the third period, the guys came to me and said they were going to pull this out."
A fired-up Heritage offense took its first second-half possession 77 yards in just five plays, the big one a 42-yard run from senior running back Ethan Thompson. Caleb Deitz scored three plays later around left end from 4 yards out for a 7-3 lead.
An Anderson fumble at midfield led to another quick Generals scoring drive, which was aided by a third-down Ringgold pass-interference penalty. Deitz again capped the drive with a 15-yard scoring run. Heritage, though, tried to trick the Tigers on the PAT with a quick pass, but it failed.
It was a point the Generals (4-1, 0-1) would liked to have had back after Ringgold drove 80 yards in just eight plays to get within three on Anderson's 2-yard run. A quick three-and-out was followed by a lengthy Ringgold drive that reached the Heritage 5 before stalling as time wound down, with Ray booting the tying field goal.
Heritage needed six plays to score in overtime, with Jake Sampson hitting Cody Sherlin from 5 yards out, but Lewis' PAT nailed the left upright, leading to Anderson's TD run and Ray's winning PAT.