By Jay Tidwell

Special to the Journal

RIPLEY - In a contest between Corinth's emerging passing game and Ripley's power running game, the edge went to the runners.

Michael Poole rushed for 148 yards and Jaquise Cook ran for 139, and Ripley motored past Corinth 33-27 in its division opener Friday night.

Poole averaged 5.92 yards per carry, and had key runs of 16 and 15 yards for Ripley - ranked No. 1 in the Daily Journal's small schools rankings and No. 5 in the state in 3A - in the final scoring drive that broke a 27-27 tie with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining.

"Our offense did good, and our line made the blocks so our backs came through," said Poole. "We had the energy to do it."

Cook averaged better than six yards per carry, and his third TD of the night - a 2-yard plunge on the decisive drive - helped Ripley (5-0, 1-0 in 1-3A) reach 5-0 for the first time since 1999. Cook also scored on a 2-yard dive in the first quarter, and a 4-yard run in the third quarter that gave the host Tigers a 27-19 lead.

"I've always felt like if you can control the clock and play power football against great athletes like we faced (Friday night), and score when you have the opportunity, then you'll have a chance to win it at the end," said Ripley coach Mac McCurry. "That's what we did."

With junior running back Hubert Crawford out with an injury, Corinth (1-4, 0-2 in 1-3A) relied on the arm of quarterback Zerrick Payne. Payne, a junior who is in his first year as the starting signal caller for Corinth, completed 19 of 31 passes for 292 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 50 yards and three TDs.

"He played a great game tonight," said Corinth coach Jimmy Mitchell. "This time a year ago he was one of our best receivers. He's going to get better each game."

Payne's only miscue was on a shuffle pass that was picked off by lineman Jordi Vernor who rumbled 39 yards to give Ripley a 14-7 lead just over a minute before halftime. But Payne followed on the next series with a 73-yard scoring strike to sophomore Diante Curlee.

"We knew we were going to have a hard time containing their passing game, and we didn't do that to any great degree," McCurry said. "We just kind of held on and scored when we had the opportunity."

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