Peyton Williams’ big night propels Ringgold past LaFayette

Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / Ringgold football coach Robert Akins' team opened its GHSA Region 6-AAA schedule with a win at LaFayette on Friday night.

Ringgold came into Friday's GHSA Region 6-AAA football opener at LaFayette expecting to face a team intent on using its stable of running backs to try and pound the Tigers into submission.

What the visitors found, though, was a team more than willing to throw the ball early and often. Ringgold, after some early struggles stopping LaFayette's newfound air attack, used a big night from Peyton Williams and three interceptions to escape with a 41-24 win.

It's the first win for Ringgold (3-1, 1-0) in LaFayette since 2006.

Williams, who had just one carry a week ago as he spent most of the game at receiver, was a dual threat Friday, rushing 17 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns while also catching four balls for 80 yards. His 72-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter came one play after the Ramblers (1-3, 0-1) scored to cut the lead to 28-21.

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school football games)

"We moved Peyton around tonight from receiver to running back, and he showed up to play," Ringgold coach Robert Akins said. "He is so explosive at either position and is a great kid who is very humble."

Quarterback Ross Norman, making his third start, had 184 yards and a touchdown pass to Ty Gilbert while also adding a pair of scoring runs for the Tigers, who jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the game's first six minutes.

The Ramblers added a pair of Jacob Brown field goals and Austin Tucker's bullish 10-yard run to make it 14-13 at halftime. LaFayette quarterback Zach Barrett, who missed time with injury to start the season, nearly doubled his season output with 11 completions in the first half, several coming on quick screens that seemed to throw the defense off.

That changed in the second half, beginning with Cole Runyon's interception in the end zone to stop LaFayette's opening possession. Eight plays later, after Williams had ripped off three runs of 10-plus yards, Norman scored on a keeper to make it 21-13.

Two minutes later, Logan Roberts stepped in front of a screen pass for an interception, returning it 37 yards for a touchdown.

"We didn't make a whole lot of adjustments defensively, but our kids just played better," Akins said. "We did trap the boundary side a lot to prevent their quick screen game, and our defensive line was able to put some pressure on their quarterback."

Barrett hit Sam Hall with a 34-yard touchdown early in the final quarter to make it a one-possession game, but Williams answered with his 72-yard run to seal the win.

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