Ringgold, meanwhile, did something it last accomplished in 1983.
“We are wore out, but this is the best feeling in the world,” Dale said. “This game will go down in Ringgold history.”
Ringgold junior running back D.L. Goins — who played the first half of the 2012 season at Dalton before transferring and playing with the Tigers the rest of the way — scored Friday’s first touchdown, a 73-yard run nearly five minutes into the game.
But the magician for Ringgold was Dale. Running the read option with Goins and running back Kile Sholl, Dale often made Dalton defenders miss tackles and he scrambled for positive yardage when his protection broke down. He only threw the ball 14 times, completing five passes for 63 yards, and was intercepted twice by Dalton sophomore safety Jordon McKinney.
“It’s very disappointing when you know exactly what’s going to happen and exactly who will get the ball,” Land said, “and the guy still is able to make plays. ... Hats off to the quarterback there.”
Dalton tied the game at 7-7 on the final play of the first half, a 1-yard run from Chastain. The Cats then took a 14-7 lead with 6:34 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard run from Veraldi, who finished with 70 yards rushing and split time at quarterback with Chastain. Dale’s 12-yard run with 7:15 left tied the fourth quarter at 14-all, and both teams had two possessions before regulation time expired.
On Dalton’s last possession of the quarter, a 70-yard run from running back Tyler Noland was called back for an illegal block. The run would’ve put Dalton at the Ringgold 23 and in field goal territory with a chance to win the game. The flag put the Cats on their own 39 and the drive ended in a punt.
“We had numerous chances to put them away and didn’t do it,” Land said. “That’s the sign of a young team. ... We’re going to have to mature and mature quick.”
Noland, who was filling in for injured starter Kelvis Rhodes, finished with 125 yards on 16 carries.
“I went in the locker room and I just sat down and was mad at myself,” Noland said. “I was discouraged. ... All our team did good. We executed fine. If I could take one play back, it’d be the long run.”