Entering the final week of region play Friday Ranburne needed to win its game against Fayetteville and hope for some help elsewhere in order to claim its fourth straight playoff berth.
The Bulldogs did their part with a 27-21 win, but their postseason dreams came to an end shortly thereafter.
Ranburne needed Vincent to beat LaFayette in order for Ranburne to claim the No. 4 spot in its region, but LaFayette prevailed in that game, 39-19, ending Ranburne’s season.
“It’s kind of a strange feeling,” said Ranburne head coach Stephen Bailey. “You win the ballgame, and you’re excited. It was a close, hard-fought game, so you’re excited about that. Of course my mind goes immediately to [the playoff] question, and they give me the answer and you kind of get a letdown. There’s a little mixed feeling there.”
Ranburne won its game thanks in large part to an all-around effort by quarterback Jaxon Langley. Langley completed 9-of-17 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a team-best 75 yards and two more scores on 16 carries, and also added an interception on defense.
His 31-yard touchdown run late in the game put Ranburne up 27-14 and proved to be the difference in the game.
Ranburne played this season with just four seniors on its roster, and two of them made major contributions in what turned out to be their final game for the Bulldogs.
Trace McMahan caught two passes for 57 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown grab, and Tylor Cornwell churned out 125 yards from scrimmage (67 rushing, 58 receiving) on 23 touches and scored a touchdown as well.
The silver lining to the season ending loss is that losing just four seniors means that the vast majority of the starting lineup will be back for another year, including Langley, top receiver Tyler Craft and cornerstone lineman Carson Hall, who was only a sophomore this year.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had this many returning players get this many reps and this much experience,” Bailey said. “That is a big positive. It’s exciting to know that you’ve got a whole offseason to grow with people who have already played, have already been in the fire, that already know what to expect. You’ve got a whole offseason to develop those kids even more.”
Ranburne, which does not have a week-10 game, finishes the season with a 4-6 record.