TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - The blueprint is one Ringgold High School football fans should get accustomed to. As the Tigers displayed in a 21-11 win Saturday night at Northwest Whitfield, a strong run game and athletic defense will determine if the program can back up last season's record playoff run.
Senior running backs Kile Sholl and D.L. Goins each eclipsed 100 yards and a stout Ringgold defense held the usually potent Bruins to 209 total yards. First-time starting quarterback Devin Lancaster, who is replacing all-stater Slade Dale, had a strong first game with two early touchdown passes to Sholl.
"We weren't perfect, but you can't expect that the first game of the season," said Sholl, who had 118 yards on the ground and another 55 through the air. "Credit Northwest because they gave us a tough game, but it was as good an opening game as you could ask for. It was a hard-hitting game, but we came out with no injuries."
Ringgold needed just five plays to make it 7-0. Sholl ripped off 46 yards on the second play and on third-and-goal from the 9 caught a bullet from Lancaster for the touchdown.
Following a Northwest punt on its first possession, the Tigers drove 84 yards in 10 plays, culminating in Sholl's 21-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-and-13 play. The Ringgold defense, led by two transfers -- former Bruin Seth Pierce and Michael King from Heritage -- held Northwest and prolific quarterback Caleb Shiflett to 58 yards in the opening half as Ringgold led 14-3.
"I thought our defense played great, and I felt they were the key coming in," Ringgold coach Robert Akins said. "We're not in great shape yet, but I was as proud as I could be with the way the defense played. We got tired there at the end, and we weren't blitzing quite as much as I thought we should, but Shiflett is a great quarterback and we did a good job getting pressure and containing him. Eleven points isn't much to give them."
Ringgold essentially put the game away with a 71-yard drive midway through the third period, this time featuring the hard running of Goins (103 yards on 18 carries). His 4-yard run capped the drive, making it 21-3. Northwest did get a late score as Shiflett, who was 19-for-35 for 158 yards, hit Clay Phillips on a 3-yard pass.
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