Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Heritage's Paxton McCary, left, escapes two Ridgeland defenders during Friday night's GHSA Region 7-AAAA game at Ridgeland in Rossville, Ga.

Updated with more information at 12:55 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2020.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Ringgold's offense has earned most of the headlines during an impressive start to this prep football season. The Tigers' defense took center stage Friday night in a 23-17 Region 6-AAA win over Adairsville at Don Patterson Stadium.

Robert Akins' defense forced four turnovers and held Adairsville on a pair of fourth-down stops as the Tigers improved to 4-2 overall and a 3-1 in the league after going winless last year.

"Our defense played lights out," Akins said. "Our scheme was almost perfect, and the coaches did an awesome job. Special teams were also huge with a blocked punt, and at the end of the game when we needed it the most our offensive line was strong."

Ringgold got on top when Peyton Williams broke off a 76-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. After a Jamari Johnson 11-yard run tied the game for Adairsville (3-2, 2-1), Kori Dumas scored his 16th touchdown of the season on a 14-yard run to put Ringgold back on top.

A blocked punt by Jordan Wideman made it a nine-point halftime lead, but an Eli Agnew touchdown run midway through the third quarter cut the Ringgold advantage to 16-14. The visitors were driving moments later when Price Pennington's big hit forced a fumble. Price then capped the ensuing drive with an 11-yard touchdown run for a 23-14 lead with 8:35 remaining.

Adairsville later added a field goal, but never touched the ball again. Malachi Hill and Marcus Fortson had interceptions for Ringgold.

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Heritage at Ridgeland football on Oct. 16, 2020

Ridgeland 21, Heritage 14: The Panthers earned their first win in six games (1-0 in Region 7-AAAA) behind a bruising ground game led by fullback Jeremiah Turner, who had a 68-yard touchdown on a screen pass and later iced the home win with an 85-yard run while finishing with 220 rushing yards.

Turner was also part of a Ridgeland defensive line — along with Ashton Turner, Kyle Brown and Kade Dunn — that controlled the line of scrimmage.

"The defense held the line tonight and kept the Heritage offense under control most of the game," Ridgeland coach Kip Klein said. "I told the kids they've been through the gauntlet and stayed the course. They kept their focus, and big things are coming for them now."

Paxton McCrary and Nick Hanson had short touchdown runs for Heritage (3-3, 0-1).

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 44, Sonoraville 37: Jacob Brown's 55-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes to play lifted the Warriors (1-4, 1-2 Region 6-AAA) in a game with three lead changes in the final quarter. Brady Lackey had three touchdown passes in the second half, with his third giving the Phoenix (2-3, 0-3) a 37-36 lead in the fourth quarter, setting up Brown's winning touchdown.

Calhoun 47, Hiram 27: The Yellow Jackets (5-1, 1-0 Region 7-AAAAA) rolled out to a 40-0 halftime lead before playing reserves in the second half. Jerrian Hames had scoring runs of 59 and 5 yards, while Christian Lewis threw touchdown passes of 4 yards to Greyson McEntire, 57 yards to Will Seamons and 11 yards to Cole Speer.

Rockmart 49, North Murray 42: Rockmart (4-1, 3-0 Region 6-AAA) led 42-14 after JoJo Haynes' 98-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but the Mountaineers (2-2, 2-1) scored three consecutive touchdowns before Javin Whatley answered with a 4-yard run with less than two minutes to play. North Murray's D'Ante Tidwell had two long kickoff returns, one for a touchdown, and Seth Griffin threw a pair of touchdown passes to Cade Petty. Whatley ran for two and passed for another for the Yellow Jackets.

Rome 24, Dalton 8: Freshman Shaun Nelson scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one off a pass from Reece Fountain, and the Wolves' defense shut down the potent Dalton ground game to improve to 3-3 and 3-1 in Region 5-AAAAAA. Luke Blanchard scored the only touchdown for Dalton (1-4, 0-3) on a 6-yard pass from Ashton Blackwell.

Bowdon 23, Gordon Lee 21: The Trojans took their first loss in six games and in their Region 6-A public opener despite 206 rushing yards and a touchdown from Cade Peterson. Brody Cobb added 72 yards and a score on the ground, and Jacob Neal had five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on a pass thrown by Blake Groce (150 passing yards).

Trion 37, Southeast Whitfield 6: Rob Brown rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown, and Conner Deparlier passed for two scores and rushed for another as the Bulldogs improved to 2-3 with the nonregion win. Cole Cavin, Nathan Willingham and Brantley Willbanks also scored for Trion, which broke open a close game with 28 points in the third quarter.

Other area scores: Central-Carroll 56, Northwest Whitfield 35; Murray County 15, Coahulla Creek 7.

Contact Lindsey Young at Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.