Dalton High School’s football team had too many self-inflicted wounds in Friday’s 33-27 loss to Ringgold. But the biggest lingering issue may be with the Catamounts blocking on special teams.
The Tigers blocked three Dalton kicks — two field goals and one punt — in the triple-overtime, season-opening contest.
The first field goal block came with 4:52 left in the first half. With Ringgold ahead 7-0, running back and linebacker D.L. Goins — who played half the 2012 season at Dalton before transferring to Ringgold — blocked a 26-yard try from Kiko Rodriguez.
In the fourth quarter, the Cats led 14-7 and had a three-and-out possession backed up against their own end zone. Eder Mora’s punt from the goal line was blocked by lineman Ryan Emmer, but still traveled 22 yards to the Dalton 32 yard line. The Tigers only needed four plays to tie the game 14-14.
“It’s a situation we have looked at,” Cats coach Matt Land said. “You’ve got a guy timing the snap, first off. You’ve got a guy running and jumping over the line. What they were doing is powering down with our big guys and we weren’t getting the push we needed to eliminate players from getting in the gap right there and we felt we corrected it a couple times and they kept finding a way to get through.”
In the second overtime, after a Dalton touchdown, Rodriguez’s extra-point try was blocked, leaving the Cats in a dangerous predicament with a 27-21 lead and the Tigers getting the ball. However, after a Ringgold score, kicker Chris Watts’ try was too low and blocked by a Dalton lineman, keeping the score tied.
If Rodriguez’s kick wasn’t blocked and went through the posts, Dalton could’ve won 28-27. That aside, the blocks on field goals still left four points off the board, and the blocked punt gave Ringgold a short field for the game-tying touchdown in regulation.
• Flags in bunches: The Catamounts didn’t have more penalties than Ringgold, but it certainly seemed like it. That’s because the Dalton’s infractions kept coming in bunches.
Dalton had two drives with multiple pre-snap penalties in Ringgold territory. At the beginning of the third quarter, and after quarterback Payton Veraldi’s 41-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Zek Cobb, the Cats had two consecutive illegal procedure penalties, and another one after the next play. Dalton still scored on the drive thanks to Veraldi’s 26-yard run.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Dalton had an illegal procedure penalty to begin a drive at its own 37, and one following a Jase Chastain incompletion. The Cats didn’t recover from the second-and-20 situation, and punted two plays later.
“I don’t think you lose a game by one play,” Land said. “I do think you have to look back and realize any time you have that many penalties — we may have had less penalty yards — you just can’t penalize yourself that much. I don’t particularly like penalties, (but I also don’t like) turnovers.”
Ringgold had 11 penalties for 70 yards, while Dalton had eight for 45.
• Kelvis who?: Just kidding. You don’t forget someone who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last year as a sophomore, which is what Kelvis Rhodes did. However, Rhodes was injured and did not dress to play Friday, a hot topic during the week leading to the game.
But fill-in Tyler Noland, this year’s sophomore ball carrier, did quite well. He rushed for 125 yards on 16 carries, but never found the end zone. His yardage total would’ve been higher — and the winner possibly different — had a 70-yard run in the fourth quarter not been reduced to a 42-yard run because of an illegal block in the back.
“Tyler is a guy who gives you 100 percent regardless whether you’re in a game, at practice or working out,” Land said. “We know what we get with Tyler. He is a young guy who will get a lot of playing time this year. I’m excited to watch him and really happy for his success. He’s a guy we’re going to have to continue getting on the field and have him mature through the year.”
Noland left the game in the first overtime with an injury to his left side after he was crumpled under by a pile of Ringgold defenders on a 2-yard loss, but he finished with the biggest workload.
“It was my first high school game,” Noland said. “I wasn’t nervous. I was just loose and ready to go.”
The question now is, will Rhodes play in two weeks when Dalton heads to face Calhoun? Or will the Dalton fans see more of Noland?
• No more slingin’: Radio announcers from Ringgold nicknamed the Tigers’ standout quarterback “Slingin’” Slade Dale.
Maybe he should be renamed “Slippery” or “Shifty,” because he didn’t do a whole lot of slingin’ Friday, but slipped and shifted his way to 225 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 35 carries.
Dale, who committed to play baseball at the University of Georgia, completed just 5 of 14 passes for 63 yards. He didn’t throw any touchdowns, and Dalton cornerback Jordon McKinney intercepted him twice.
To his credit, Dale was going against an experienced Dalton secondary and linebacker group. Mora (safety), Nathan Bryant (safety) and Chris Childs (cornerback) all started last season. At linebacker, Lyle Durham and Jay Rockholt also started last season, and Elijah Stidmon shared starter time with Devonte Davis, another returner at linebacker.
“That surprised us,” Land said. “We thought he’d be a little more effective throwing the ball, but our defensive secondary played outstanding. We’ve had a lot of missed time out of Eder and Nathan, but they got cohesive and played very well. Like I said, (Dale) has the ability to beat us with his arm or beat us with his legs. Since we took away his arm, he beat us with his legs.”