RIPLEY – Just like last year, Ripley played right with the highly-regarded South Charleston Black Eagles Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
But this time around, the Vikings couldn’t sustain that for an entire game.
Turnovers doomed David Tennant’s crew. Ripley fumbled the football three times and lost each one and also saw three passes get intercepted.
Those miscues, coupled with a 21-point outburst in the second quarter by SC were too much to overcome for the Vikings, who fell 42-20 on Seniors Night at Memorial Stadium.
The win was sweet revenge for SC, who a year ago lost to Ripley, 7-6, and subsequently missed out on the Class AAA playoffs.
“We absoutely gave it (the game) away,” said Tennant. “Our offense was looking good, but you just can’t turn the ball over like we did.”
Speed was a concern for Tennant and his coaching staff heading into the game and early on SC’s A.D. Cunningham displayed it by ripping off a 46-yard run for the game’s first score. The extra point by Jacob Gordon gave the Black Eagles a 7-0 lead with 9:57 to go in the first.
Ripley answered as quarterback Trevor Tucker scored at the 4:01 mark on a 2-yard run. Easton Berry evened the count at 7-7 with the PAT.
Before the opening period had come to a close, the Vikings went back to work offensively. A welcomed sight on Friday night was that of talented junior Jake Martin, who had missed the first six games of the season due to a broken leg sustained in a preseason scrimmage. Martin made his presence felt by firing a 59-yard halfback pass to senior wide receiver Kade Harrion for six. The extra point was no good but after eight minutes of play Ripley owned a 13-7 lead over the Black Eagles.
Tennant was pleased with the return of Martin.
“He looked good. He did a lot more than I expected (for returning so quickly from his type of injury,” said Tennant.
At the 10:10 mark of the second, Kentre Grier hooked up with Marquel Hampton from 12 yards out. The extra point by Gordon was good and SC was ahead to stay at 14-13.
Before the half was over, Grier hit Fred Crozier on a play that covered 82 yards for a score to extend the lead to 21-13.
Ripley was in a position to possibly get things even or, at worst, be down by one at halftime. Forced to pass with time running out in the half, a Tucker pass attempt was picked off by Kevin Forrest and returned 99 yards for six.
Despite the swing in points to put Ripley down 28-13 at halftime, Tennant still liked his team’s chances.
Page 2 of 2 - “That play hurt, but I liked the way we were playing,” he said.
SC, though, had other ideas about Ripley getting things closer in the final two quarters. Grier and Forrest got together on a 23-yard pass play at the 4:10 mark of the third and then on a play covering 30 yards with 7:54 remaining in the game.
Down 42-14, Tucker scored from six yards out with 5:35 left in the contest to make the final 42-20.
“Our kids came out (in the second half) and never quit,” he said. “We played a good game.”
While losing by 22, Ripley trailed SC just 465 to 427 in total yards.
Grier completed 18-of-24 for 290 and the four touchdowns. Cunningham was the team’s leading rusher with 94 on 12 carries. Grier added 84 on 13.
Tucker was 9-for-23 for 148 yards while suffering the three interceptions. Martin was 1-for-1 with the TD toss.
Tucker carried 25 times for 154 yards while Martin racked up 67 yards on 14 carries in his late-season debut.
Harrison had five catches for the Vikings totaling 152 yards and the TD. Ryan Stutler and Martin each snagged two passes for 29 and 18 yards, respectively. Cody Harris had one catch for eight yards.
Harrison averaged 23.2 yards on four kickoff returns while Stutler took one back for 20. Caleb Jennings averaged 23 yards on four punts.
Harrison was Ripley’s top tackler with seven. Harris, Nathan Tucker and Logan Buckalew each had six. Alex Hambrick registered four stops. Trevor Tucker, Anthony Jarvis and Jacob Kay had three tackles each. Martin and Stutler had two while Jennings and Bradley Knotts recorded one.
Now at 1-6, Ripley will utilize its bye week of the 2013 season. The Vikings will be on the road at Lincoln County on October 25. Ripley also has games remaining at GW and its finale against arch-rival Ravenswood inside Memorial Stadium.