Kelly Wray/For The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Banner
On a night when everything but the concession nachos drew a personal foul and referees spent more time in huddles than did the players, Ringling took control late and beat Empire, 42-14, here Thursday.
Game officials called 34 total penalties in a game that lasted more than three hours. Empire was flagged 14 times for 137 yards, while Ringling notched 178 yards in penalties.
Empire drew seven penalties in the fourth quarter alone.
The loss drops Empire to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in District A-4. The Bulldogs will need wins over Velma-Alma and Bray-Doyle to earn the right to host a playoff game. Ringling moved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the district.
Ringling fought to a 21-7 halftime lead, but Empire’s Dillon Twigg intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 7. There was 6:10 left in the third quarter, and it looked as if momentum was swinging in Empire’s favor.
However, Ringling answered with 13-play, 64-yard scoring drive to recapture momentum for good.
Though it was a battle, Ringling won the war up front. The Blue Devils rushed for 378 yards, including 193 in the second half. Empire, while staying within striking distance for much of three quarters, managed just 93 yards of total offense.
Both teams traded shots early, with Empire nearly drawing first blood.
Ringling went to work, mostly on the ground, and took a 6-0 lead when quarterback Tanner Richardson scored from the 3-yard line.
Empire answered, however, and briefly lead in the second quarter. Twigg ran a kickoff back to the Ringling 19 and seven plays and five total penalties later, he scored from the 2. Anthony Gonzalez kicked the extra-point to give Empire a 7-6 advantage.