December 8, 2012

Prep football: Ridgeland on to finals

ROSSVILLE — For the first time in Ridgeland football history, the Panthers will play for a state title.

A back-and-forth affair came down to a frantic final three minutes with homestanding Ridgeland (13-1) claiming a 28-27 victory over perennial powerhouse Marist in front of a packed house at Bowers and Painter Field.

Trailing 21-14 after a Marist touchdown with 9:05 remaining, Darrell Bridges broke off an 89-yard TD run to knot the game, but the War Eagles (12-2) clicked off an 11-play, 71-yard drive, capped by a 26-yard scoring run by Boston College commitment Myles Willis.

However, Sharone Porter was able to block the extra point, keeping Marist’s lead at six.

A 15-yard pass interference penalty on the War Eagles jump-started the Panthers’ ensuing drive and Ridgeland marched downfield on the legs of Bridges, who had six carries for 32 yards on the drive.

With 36 seconds remaining, Bridges fired a halfback pass to a wide open Shaqualm McCoy, who burst through a tackle at the goal line for a 24-yard score. Evan Courtney’s extra point put the Panthers ahead 28-27.

Marist used four completions by Willis to put the ball at the Ridgeland 17 with five seconds remaining. But the War Eagles’ 35-yard game-winning field goal attempt bounced off the right upright and fell harmlessly to the turf.

Ridgeland ran for 228 yards against a Marist defense that was allowing just 78 rushing yards a contest. Bridges, held to 30 yards on eight first-half carries, finished with 176 yards on 20 attempts.

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