RIPLEY – Consecutive plays in the early stages of the second quarter Friday night turned momentum and set the stage for a dominating 43-13 win for the visiting Ravenswood Red Devils who reclaimed the coveted Hatchet and locked up a 2013 Class AA playoff berth by whipping the Ripley Vikings on their home Death Valley turf. It was the third straight year that the visiting team won the game in the historic cross-county rivalry series.
Coach Dave Tennant's Vikings started strong, driving 67 yards in 13 plays to light up the scoreboard first on a two-yard dart by quarterback Trevor Tucker with 6:07 left in the opening quarter. Easton Berry booted the PAT and Ripley led 7-0.
Ravenswood answered immediately, driving 62 yards in seven plays aided by a pass interference call on third and long to keep the drive alive. Devon Crews capped the march with a 24-yard burst into the end zone for the touchdown. Nathan Cunningham booted the PAT and the game was knotted at 7-7 with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
Ripley appeared headed for the tie-breaking TD when consecutive plays swung momentum to Coach Mick Price's Red Devils' favor for good. First, junior defensive end Dylan Radabaugh sacked Tucker on a crucial third down pass attempt for an eight-yard loss. Then, senior Heath Burgess fielded Caleb Jennings' punt, broke a tackle and set sail down the Ravenswood sideline for 73 yards. A Viking personal foul at the end of Burgess's game-changing return moved the ball inside the Ripley 10. Two plays later, Crews scored his second TD on a six-yard run. The PAT kick was wide, but Ravenswood led 13-7 with 9:03 left in the second quarter—a lead they would never relinquish but build on exponentially.
Ravenswood scored again on a 24-yard run by junior Rhys Jelich, who took over when Crews suffered an injury on a sideline tangle, to run for a whopping 184 yards on 24 carries and score a pair of rushing TDs. Jelich's first TD of the night capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive. The pass attempt for two points failed and the Red Devils had upped their advantage to 19-7 with 2:52 left in the first half. That advantage held at the break.
Any hope of a second half Viking comeback evaporated in just 14 seconds at the start of the second half. Rhys Jelich gathered in the Jennings' kickoff at the four yard line and torched the Vikings for a 96-yard kickoff return across the field and down the Viking sideline for a touchdown. The PAT kick failed, but Ravenswood had a commanding 25-7 lead with 11:46 still left in the third quarter. Jelich's dagger in the Vikings' heart turned out to be the only scoring of the quarter.
Linebacker/lineman Matt Peery got into the scoring act next with an opportunity in the backfield due to Crews's injury. Peery took advantage of the chance to score on a nine-yard run to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive with 8:04 left in the fourth quarter. The run for two points failed, but the Red Devils were command at 31-7.
Page 2 of 3 - Viking senior Kade Harrison broke the Ripley scoring drought with a lightning bolt of his own on the ensuing kickoff racing 94 yards down the visiting sideline for a touchdown of his own. The pass for two point failed, and the score was 31-13 with 7:48 left in the game.
Ravenswood answered immediately, recovering a Viking onside kick attempt and moving 50 yards in just two plays for another TD. Jelich scored the six pointer on a 29-yard run. The pass for two points failed, and the Devils led 37-13 with 7:16 left.
Conner Jelich recovered a Viking fumble to set up the final scoring drive of the game—one which featured the most spectacular play albeit penalized play of the game. On the ensuing drive, Rhys Jelich literally hurdled Ripley defender #21 inside the 10 yard line, but was flagged for a personal foul for his soaring leap.
Undaunted, the Red Devils still cashed in on a 20-yard TD pass from Heath Burgess to a diving Matt Peery with 4:28 left. The pass for two points again failed, but Ravenswood led 43-13 and began substituting freely as the celebration began in the visiting stands and on the sideline.
In the aftermath of the victory, Coach Price accepted the Hatchet from Ripley principal Will Hosaflook and the on-field celebration was in full force.
On the night, Rhys Jelich led the Ravenswood ground attack with 24 carries for 184 yards and two TDs. Devon Crews added 17 carries for 64 yards and two TDs; Matt Peery, seven carries for 50 yards and a TD; Thomas Sturm, one carry for three yards; and Heath Burgess netted minus two yards on five carries.
As a team, the Red Devils carried 54 times for 299 yards with five touchdowns.
Heath Burgess completed four of six passes for 67 yards and a TD. Matt Peery had two catches for 45 yards and a TD; and Isaac Crow, two catches for 22 yards.
Ravenswood totaled 394 offensive yards with 19 first downs (15 via rush, three via pass and one via penalty) and drew eight flags for 60 yards.
Isaac Crow punted just once for 30 yards. Heath Burgess had one punt return for 73 yards.
Nathan Cunningham kicked off eight times with a 49.4-yard average. Rhys Jelich had two kickoff returns for 126 yards and a TD. Matt Peery had one for no gain, recovering a Viking onside kick attempt.
For the Vikings, Trevor Tucker had 15 carries for a net 59 yards and a TD. Jake Martin added 12 carries for 58 yards; Drew Harpold, one carry for 14 yards; Chance Ranson, one carry for five yards; and Gabe Hamrick, two carries for two yards. Ripley totaled 31 carries for 138 yards.
Tucker completed eight of 16 passes for 85 yards; Martin, two of five for 45 yards with one interception; and Gabe Hamrick, one of one for nine yards. Kade Harrison had six catches for 90 yards; Ryan Stutler, two for 24 yards; Martin, two for 17 yards; and Nathan Tucker, one for 16 yards.
Page 3 of 3 - Ripley totaled 264 offensive yards with 14 first downs (six via rush and eight via pass) and drew eight flags for 66 yards.
Caleb Jennings punted four times with a 33.8-yard average and kicked off three times with a 39.7-yard average.
Harrison had three kickoff returns for 136 yards including a 94-yard TD return. Martin had three for 79 yards; and Anthony Jarvis, one for five yards.
Defensively for Ravenswood, Connor Jelich (TFL, sack, fumble recovery) led the way with seven tackles. Jordan Saunders added five, Rhys Jelich (interception, PBU), Nathan Cunningham and Matt Starcher four each, Heath Burgess (two PBUs), Dylan Radabaugh (sack), Devon Crews, Thomas Sturm, Ben Johnson and Roy Bush three each, Matt Peery (PBU), Isaac Crow, Preston Humphreys, Damien Caldwell, Jon Crow and Nathan Withers two each and Hayden Mandrake (PBU), Jace Buckland-Hickman and Alex Casto one each.
Defensively for Ripley, Jake Martin (sack) led the way with eight tackles. Cody Harris and Nathan Tucker added six each, Ryan Stutler and Gabe Hamrick four each, Zach DeFrank, Brandon Tolley and Adam bailey (fumble recovery) three each, Alex Hambrick, Anthony Jarvis, Jacob Kay and Bradley Knotts (fumble recovery) two each and D.J. Cummings, Jordan Ramsey and Logan Buckalew one each,
"I'm really proud of these kids and our coaches," said Price amid the celebration. "To come from a 2-8 season to the state playoffs is really an accomplishment. We don't care who we play, where we play or when we play. We're just glad to be one of the 16 AA teams still playing next weekend."
Ravenswood finished the regular season at 6-4 and ranked No. 14 in the final Class AA ratings. The advance to the Class AA playoffs Saturday night (7:30 p.m.) by taking on No. 3 Bluefield (8-2) at historic Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield. Ripley closes out a 2-8 campaign.
(RP) Trevor Tucker, two-yard run (Easton Berry kick); 6:07 first quarter
(RV) Devon Crews, 24-yard run (Nathan Cunningham kick); 3:05 first quarter
(RV) Crews, six-yard run (kick failed); 9:03 second quarter
(RV) Rhys Jelich, 24-yard run (pass failed); 2:52 second quarter
(RV) Jelich, 96-yard kickoff return (kick failed); 11:46 third quarter
(RV) Matt Peery, nine-yard run (run failed); 8:04 fourth quarter
(RP) Kade Harrison, 94-yard kickoff return (pass failed); 7:48 fourth quarter
(RV) Jelich, 29-yard run (pass failed); 7:16 fourth quarter
(RV) Peery, 20-yard pass from Heath Burgess (pass failed); 4:28 fourth quarter