RIPLEY • Ripley tuned up everything it needed to in its non-division finale on Friday night.
The Tigers showed up in all three phases of the game to pick up a 21-9 win over Booneville – the Daily Journal’s No. 2-ranked small school.
It started with the opening kick, as junior Tyler Rucker took the kick 95 yards for an early 7-0 lead.
It was a huge boost for the Tigers (4-1), who were playing without starting quarterback Ty Long after injuring his ribs in a loss to Senatobia last week. Knowing it would be tough to move the ball on a stout Booneville (3-2) defense, Rucker’s kickoff return gave Ripley some much-needed breathing room.
“That gave our defense and our offense a boost,” said Rucker. “Every since that happened, we just clicked and got all the momentum.”
It was tough sledding for both offenses in the first half after that. Booneville punted on its first four possessions and threw an interception to Ripley’s C.J. Martin on the final drive of the first half.
Ripley’s struggles were much of the same with three punts, a fumble by Immanuel Griffin, and a turnover on downs to cling to a 7-0 lead at the break.
Griffin bounced back from the fumble deep into Booneville territory with a strong second half. As the Blue Devils got on the board with a 27-yard field goal to start the third quarter, Griffin answered on the Tigers’ first play as he raced 69 yards to for the 14-3 lead with 6:43 left in the period.
The senior tailback added a 35-yard score on fourth and one with 8:13 left in the game as Ripley built a 21-3 lead.
“The O-line was blocking good in the first half, I just wasn’t doing my job. I told them I was going to do my job in the second half – and I did,” Griffin said.
The Blue Devils, who were missing four starters, had just 136 yards of offense.
“We’re short-handed but that’s where you have to have other people step up. I don’t make excuses and I’ll blame me. It starts with me,” said Booneville head coach Mike Mattox.
Turning Point: Griffin’s 69-yard rush for the 14-3 lead to start the third quarter gave the Tigers’ defense plenty of cushion.
Point Man: Griffin had 193 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Both scores and 135 yards came all in the second half.
Talking Point: “To be 4-1 at this point to start region play, is almost exactly like we want to be.” - Ripley head coach Perry Liles.
• Tavarius Brown scored on a 12-yard keeper on Booneville’s final drive of the game.
• Ripley gained 290 of its 294 yards on the ground.
• Next week, Booneville travels to Kossuth, while Ripley hosts North Pontotoc.