n Host Tigers' time-consuming offense defuses Bulldogs.

BY JAY TIDWELL

Special for the Journal

RIPLEY - Mac McCurry expected his host Tigers to face trouble against New Albany in the season-opener Friday night. Not only had the Bulldogs won their last five meetings, but the bigger school had its speedy quarterback returning.

And McCurry's pre-game chat had Ripley ready for what it would face.

New Albany bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Tigers used a couple of big plays from Michael Poole and a clock-consuming offense to ward off the Bulldogs 35-14.

"Basically, part of our pre-game talk was that we are gonna get in a situation where things go bad," McCurry explained. "We've just got to smile and say Cheese' and keep going."

"Our young men just decided that 14 points down is just another day at the office and we're gonna do our best to come back."

New Albany quarterback Michael Garner missed the last seven games in 2006 and wasted no time making up for lost ground. Garner, a senior, scored on runs of 45 and 73 yards and had Ripley on its heels early. He had nine carries for 146 yards in the first half.

But Poole returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first quarter, and scored on two more big runs in the second quarter to cancel the deficit.

"I've been wanting one of those for a long time," Poole said of his kick return. "And I'm very proud of our offensive line. I gave it up for them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have done all of that."

Poole finished with 21 carries for 211 yards and the TDs, and his runs to the weak side in the second half snuffed New Albany's momentum. Poole's solid running enabled the Tigers to hold the ball for just under 20 minutes in the second half.

"We started out on fire, and then mistake, mistakes and more mistakes killed us," said New Albany coach Bubba Davis. "The first half we had seven penalties and two fumbles. We had an opportunity to put them away and we didn't."

Junior Jaquise Cook added two touchdowns for Ripley on short runs in the second half, sealing the win.

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