August 24, 2013

Cats slayed in triple OT

Dale leads Ringgold to rare win in series vs. Dalton

It didn’t matter who recovered the fumble, or even which team.

All that mattered was the play was over and the game was over — and with it, Dalton High School’s long run of success in its long-running football series with Ringgold.

A triple-overtime thriller to kick off the 2013 season at Dalton’s Harmon Field ended with a 33-27  victory for the visiting Tigers.

They stopped a streak of 27 straight losses to the Catamounts — who still lead the all-time series 43-2 — after the home team failed to convert in a do-or-die fourth-down situation.

For Georgia High School Association programs, in overtime each team gets a possession from the defense’s 15-yard line. After each team has a possession — first downs can be gained — if the score remains tied, there is another round of overtime handled in the same manner, although the opposite team gets possession first. In the third overtime, teams cannot try an extra-point attempt, but must go for a 2-point conversion instead.

Ringgold, which had the first possession in the third overtime, got its final score on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from senior quarterback Slade Dale, who finished the game with 225 rushing yards and three touchdowns. But a two-point conversion pass failed, leaving Dalton a chance to win, lose or tie once more.

After two runs netting 2 yards and one incomplete pass, the Cats were in fourth-and-8 at Ringgold’s 13-yard line. Dalton’s last play was a designed halfback pass — with Jase Chastain playing the halfback role — but he didn’t catch the pitch from quarterback Payton Veraldi, and both he and a Ringgold player dove on the ball, ending the game.

Dalton will travel Sept. 6 to play Calhoun, which reached the Class 2A state title game each of the past five seasons.

Cats coach Matt Land referenced his team’s 35-13 loss to Sandy Creek in the second round of last year’s Class 4A state playoffs for perspective on the season-opening loss, which won’t hurt Dalton in the league standings — the Cats are in Sub-region 7B-4A, Ringgold is in Region 5-3A — but certainly hurt.

“I wanted my players to know I hurt for them,” Land said. “To lose a close game like that, particularly one that you feel you should’ve won, I hurt for them. You lose to Sandy Creek, you know, you tried your best but got beat by a better team. It’s hard to lose a game you should’ve won.”

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