On a night when the region contests involving the local teams yielded completely lopsided results, it was the lone non-region game that provided the greatest drama.
RCHS found themselves in a back and forth affair at Ragland Friday, but the Tigers landed the final two decisive blows – one on offense and one on defense – to come back to Wedowee with a 40-34 win.
If there was one player that personified the kind of night that RCHS had it was quarterback Avion Willis. He completed just 5-of-10 passes for 87 yards, but he was victimized by poor blocking on a pair of screen passes that went for negative yardage, and perhaps his best throw of the night – a deep bomb on 2nd-and-22 from his own 3-yard line late in the third quarter that hit the receiver in perfect stride – was dropped.
But instead of succumbing to those misfortunes, Willis – the senior who is in his fourth year as the RCHS starter – saved his best two plays for when they mattered most. On the very next play after the dropped pass Willis scrambled for a 26-yard gain on his only run of the night to get RCHS out of that deep hole and kickstart what became an 8-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that put the Tigers up 34-26 early in the fourth quarter.
Ragland scored on its next possession to tie the game at 34-34, but RCHS was able to put together one more drive, a 58-yard march that was capped by Willis’s 18-yard touchdown to Gavin Wortham with 4:59 left in the game.
That throw provided the game’s decisive points, as the RCHS defense halted Ragland’s final attempt to tie or take the lead when Mo Winston batted down a fourth down pass from Ragland quarterback Antwan Byars at the RCHS 25-yard line.
That was a rare incompletion for Byars, who finished 14-for-19 for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Winston was the workhorse in the RCHS run game on offense as he carried 23 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Terrell added 76 yards and a touchdown on six carries, and Blaine Barber had a short touchdown run on a night when RCHS was without Amari Molden, who missed the game while recovering from a concussion suffered in last week’s game.
In addition to his touchdown reception, Wortham also scored on a 73-yard kickoff return that put RCHS up 20-13 in the second quarter.
The win puts RCHS at 3-0 on the season, while Ragland falls to 2-2 with the loss. RCHS returns to region play next week at home against Weaver while Ragland will play at Wadley.
Handley 41, White Plains 0
Handley scored early and often in the first half, then cruised to victory through an abbreviated second half as they knocked off White Plains 41-0 Friday at White Plains.
E.J. Goss ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and Handley also got touchdown runs from K.D. Lee and Cordan Patterson to go along with a touchdown pass from Cannon Kyles to Makavian Allen and a Nemo Askew scoop and score on defense.
All of those points came in the first half before the game was hastened to its end with 10-minute quarters and a running clock in the second half.
Handley is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in region play. The Tigers, who entered the game ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 4A, will take on Clay Central next week in a non-region contest.
Clay Central 48, Elmore County 6
Wadley 48, Donoho 0
BB Comer 42, Ranburne 7
Thorsby 35, Woodland 6