RIPLEY – There was certainly plenty of stakes and spectacle last Friday night in Death Valley, where head coach Eddie Smolder’s Ripley Vikings renewed a rivalry with the Class AA Roane County Raiders.
Not only was it Senior Night, but also the Rotary Club Trophy was on the line for the first time in four seasons.
The more immediate goal for the Vikings was to send its nine seniors–J.T. Spurlock, Chance Morgan, Chase Morgan, Anthony Jarvis, Nathan Hall, Hunter Stephens, Charles Sheets, Cody Slater and Caleb Anderson–out with a win in their final game on Death Valley turf.
They also knew that in order to do that, the number-one priority was to stop Roane County senior Tyler May.
As the 55-13 final score indicated, the Vikings were able to do just that. 28 third quarter points made the outcome academic, but according to Smolder, it was the effort of his team that made all the difference.
“It was a great team win,” Smolder said, “Well deserved. Our kids played hard and prepared really well. We dog worked them the last two weeks and they responded. They recommitted to each other in playing hard and to finsh strong the way we started.”
While virtually everyone knew that the Raider offense was predicated on May, it was fellow Roane senior Drew Kinder who gave the Vikings fits early on. The Kinder-May tandem marched the Raiders right down the field on the opening drive, capped off by a Kinder one-yard TD plunge on fourth and goal to put the Raiders up 7-0.
The Vikings answered with a R.J. Evans 20 yard touchdown run on their ensuing possession, tying the game at 7 late in the first quarter. After trading possessions, the Raiders were again driving late in the first, but a Spurlock strip sack of May kept Roane off the board and sent the game into the second quarter tied at 7.
On the Vikings opening drive of the second quarter, Evans appeared to be in position to put Ripley ahead, but he was stripped by the Raider defense at the five, giving the ball back to the visitors.
With that momentum, May and Kinder once again marched the Raiders down the field. Kinder capped off the 95-yard drive with a 27-yard TD run on a sweep, giving the Raiders a 13-7 lead after the Vikings blocked the PAT. From that point on, it was all Vikings.
Junior quarterback Brayden Campbell took over on the next drive, hitting Jarvis on a 54-yard play action pass down to the Raider seven-yard line, then finished the drive off with a one-yard TD on a sneak. The Vikings were up 14-13 after the PAT.
The Raiders next drive was a turning point, as Kinder was lost to an injury for the rest of the game and the Vikings seized momentum for good. May forced a pass down the middle of the field that was intercepted by Viking junior Josh Kay.
On the Vikings’ next play, Campbell hit junior Rocky Ford on a corner route for the 64-yard TD pass, sending the Vikings into the break with a 21-13 lead.
The aforementioned 28-point third quarter for Ripley put the game away. The Vikings drove right down the field on their opening possession of the quarter, highlighted by a diving catch from Stephens at the one-yard line, followed by a Chance Morgan TD plunge on the next play to put the Vikings up 28-13.
After the Viking defense got a stop, Evans capped off Ripley’s next drive with an eight-yard TD run to give the Vikings a 35-13 lead. Chase Morgan scored on a ten yard TD run on Ripley’s next drive, making it 42-13.
On the Vikings’ fourth possession of the quarter, Campbell found Jarvis on a curl route and he did the rest, rumbling 54 yards for the score. Up 49-13, Kay got his second interception of the night to end the quarter.
With a comfortable lead, the Vikings continued to pound away on the ground in the fourth quarter. Freshman Dalton Myers picked up the last score of the night on a 14-yard TD run, giving Ripley a 55-13 lead. From there, they ran out the clock for the Senior Night and Rotary Club Trophy win.
While the offense took advantage of its opportunities, it was the defense that ultimately made those chances available.
“They got after it,” Smolder said of his defense, “We challenged them. Our offense plays better when our defense gets stops. Defense is number one in our plan to win and our kids played well tonight minus the first drive or two. Other than that, they were lights out.”
The Vikings held May to just 95 yards rushing on 23 attempts, while Kinder picked up 64 yards and two TDs on nine attempts. May also finished 4-of-8 passing for 46 yards and two interceptions through the air.
Evans led the Vikings in rushing with 98 yards and two TDs on 14 carries; Myers was next with 88 yards on eight carries and a TD; Campbell rushed for 48 yards on six carries with a TD; Chase Morgan went for 41 yards on 10 carries and a TD. Chance Morgan rushed for one yard on one carry with a TD, as well.
Campbell threw for 208 yards on 5-of-9 passing with two touchdowns.
Jarvis was the leading receiver, catching two passes for 109 yards and a TD. Ford was next with one catch for 63 yards and a TD.
As he has all season, Spurlock led the Vikings defensively. He closed out his Death Valley career with eight and a half tackles (one TFL), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack. Kay was next with seven stops to go with his two picks; Evans had seven stops, a PBU and a TFL; Chance Morgan had six tackles; Chase Morgan had six stops; Dawson Anderson had five tackles and a fumble recovery; Sheets had four and a half; Bailey Carr had four and a half; and Chris DeFrank had four and a half tackles and a forced fumble.
For Ripley’s nine seniors, they couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out their final game in Death Valley. While any rivalry win is nice, it is Ripley’s next rivalry game–Friday night against Ravenswood, in what may be the final Hatchet Game– that is now the main focus.
“I’m proud of our seniors,” Smolder said, “They get to have a memorable night their last time on the Memorial Stadium field. We want to finish 2-0, that’s our goal. Our next objective is beat Ravenswood and keep the Hatchet.”
The win moves Ripley to 3-6 on the season, which will wrap up Friday night at Flinn Field in Ravenswood in The Hatchet Game.
Rip – 7-14-28-6 – 55
RC – 7-13-0-0 – 13
Total yards: Ripley 488 – Roane County 253
Rushing (att-yds): Ripley 42-280 – Roane County 45-165
Passing (att-comp-yds): Ripley 5-9-208 – Roane County 6-13-88
Penalties: Ripley 7-40 yards – Roane County 6-40 yards
Turnovers: Ripley 1 – Roane County 2
First downs: Ripley 15 – Roane County 14
Time of Possession: Ripley 20:07 – Roane County 27:41