SAINT ALBANS - Ripley kicker Easton Berry missed a 34-yard field goal in overtime on a fourth-and-seven and Red Dragon running back Drew Kirby did what he did all night long. He relied on his mammoth senior laden offensive line and hauled Viking defenders on his back while scoring on a 4-yard dive to give Saint Albans a 20-14 victory at Crawford Field.
Dating back to last season, Saint Albans (1-7) had strung together 10 losses in a row and this was their last chance for the seniors to get a home victory this season.
They were able to pull it out on the Red Dragons Senior Recognition Night.
For Ripley (3-5), it prevents them from producing a winning season in 2012. The Vikings host South Charleston on October 19 and travel to cross-county rival Ravenswood on November 2 for the annual Hatchet Game to conclude their campaign.
With 6:22 left in the opening quarter Michael Cain punched in the first score of the game for Saint Albans after a succession of simple running plays for the Dragons. After a Gavin Smith extra point, Saint Albans led, 7-0.
Ripley struggled offensively in the first quarter and for most of the second before finally putting together a 61-yard drive of their own, mixing short passing plays and hard-nosed running by senior Tyler Pittenger.
"Pitt" put the blue and white on the board with a tremendous second effort and moved the pile into the end zone on a 2-yard run with 1:25 left in the first half. Easton Berry nailed the point after and we had a ball game at 7-7 going into halftime.
Dragon fullback Drew Kirby was the star of this game. Ripley struggled getting the 225-pounder to the ground all evening. They often resembled toddlers bouncing off of an anvil on a skateboard rolling down hill. Kirby ran for 134 yards on the night.
Kirby struck gold when Saint Albans quarterback Noah Reed hit him on a short pass and he did the rest taking it 22 yards to the house to put his team up 14-7 after an extra point by Smith.
The fourth quarter remained scoreless after both teams exchanged fumbles. Ripley thought they had hit paydirt when Jake Martin threw a beautiful strike to wideout Tyler Kidd that found No. 80 outrunning a Dragon cornerback to the end zone for a 58-yard strike. Unfortunately, it was nullified by a holding penalty.
Nearing the end of the final period, Tyler Pittenger took a sweep the the left side for a 14 yard gain. Pitt was slung to the ground out of bounds and the whole Saint Albans bench cleared as Tyler Kidd raced over to defend his teammate. The 20-minute delay of the game eventually resulted in offsetting personal foul penalties.
The Red Dragons dodged a bullet because they could have easily had 15 players ejected as well as head coach Steve Stoffel Jr.
As the fourth period wound down Ripley had to get a score. Signal caller Jake Martin led his team to the end zone and capped it off with a tough 3-yard keeper. Berry hit the extra point and the game was knotted at 14 with less than a minute to go.
Saint Albans made it interesting after the kickoff while moving the ball but they failed to score. This game was going to overtime.
Ripley took the ball first and sputtered. After a first down and about 13 yards gained, Ripley kicker Easton Berry attempted a 34-yard field goal on a fourth-and-seven. The kick was wide left so the game was in the hands of the Viking defense.
"We had too many stupid penalties, missed blocks, wrong routes and we got beat all over the field. I think some of our guys thought because they (Saint Albans) were winless that we just needed to show up," said running backs coach Shane Casto.
Kirby got the ball rolling for the Red Dragons. He took the ball off tackle for a 26-yard gain. He ran through three defenders, two of which threw their bodies at his ankles and he was originally ridden down at the four. Kirby took the ball again to the left side and punched it in for the victory.
The Red Dragon crowd went wild. Ripley's bleachers emptied like there was free hotdogs at the concession stand. The Vikings had fallen.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game for us and there were some mismatches in terms of size and experience at some positions," said offensive line coach Dwayne Hicks.
Ripley offensive coordinator Adam Hill is more than a little frustrated with the Viking offense.
"Too many drive killers offensively and there is no excuse at this point. We will be addressing some issues in our off-season conditioning program."
Ripley head coach Jimmy Frashier could not be reached for comment before deadline. (Note from Phil: Coach Frashier always gives his time to the paper, we just couldn't connect this weekend)
Ripley was outgained in yardage 284 to 212 on the night.
Offensively, Jake martin completed 5-of-11 passes for 78 yards with an interception. He was sacked three times. Martin led the Vikes in rushing as well with 78 yards on 23 touches and he scored a touchdown.
Tyler Pittenger netted 64 yards on 15 carries and he scored a touchdown. Ryan Stutler had for yards on a single carry and Jacob Kay had six on a single attempt. Ryan Stutler caught a pass for 11 yards and Kade Harrison had two for 42.
Defensively, Ripley was led by Justin Hinzman with 13 tackles, Preston Martin had 12 and a sack, Austin Hall had 12, Nathan Tucker had 10, Daryl Hicks had six, Quaseem Fields had five, Brandon Tolley had three and an interception, Jacob Lewis had three and a sack, Zack DeFrank had three, Jordan Vandergrift, Cody Stowers, Bryan Rhodes and Nate Donohew had a single tackle. Paul Lively had two punts for a 33 yard average. Caleb Jennings averaged 41 yards on three kickoffs.