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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Dillon, rushing attack powers Blue Devils past Texhoma

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  • ENID — It didn't really matter who touched the ball for Ringling on Saturday.
    The chains moved all the same.
    Leaning heavily on a dominant performance in the trenches, the Blue Devils employed its battering ram of an offense to full effect in a surprisingly easy 35-21 win over Texhoma in the Class A state semifinals in Enid.
    "Texhoma has a great football team, and that offense is so difficult to defend," Ringling coach Tracy Gandy said. "We knew that the best way we could win was to make sure they couldn't get the ball back with that offense."
    Mission accomplished for Ringling (12-1), who ran for 309 yards in the win, utilizing the services of seven rushers and never giving Texhoma enough time to mount a serious comeback attempt.
    "Our kids were able to control the line of scrimmage," Gandy said. "We didn't have any really big runs, just grabbed chunks here and there in steady doses."
    Ringling had two defining drives in the game.
    The first was a 13-play drive that ate up almost five minutes of the second quarter before Jackson Dillon punched in a 4-yard run. His score tied the game at 14 apiece and jerked the momentum away from Texhoma with 3:48 left in the first half.
    Dillon was the star of the drive, earning 11 carries and 64 yards including the score. He finished as the Blue Devils' leading rusher, picking up 109 yards and two touchdowns.
    Dillon appeared exhausted at the conclusion of the contest, and it's no wonder why, as the big man was present on nearly every play for Ringling.
    "He's so strong that he's just about impossible to bring down for no gain," Gandy said. "We have to pick and choose our times to use him and we felt like we needed him on that drive."
    The second was even more impressive and certainly every bit as physical. The Blue Devils bullied a physically worn down Texhoma squad, picking up 3- and 4-yard chunks seemingly at will as it chewed through clock on an 8 1/2 minute drive.
    "We felt satisfied all week with the idea of going in and pounding the ball over and over," Dillon said. "I feel like we were able to do that."
    While the drive was dominated by the running game, it was two Taner Richardson passes that made the greatest impact.
    Facing third-and-12, Richardson executed a perfectly-called screen pass to Landon Lyle for a gain of 21. Then, facing fourth-and-6 from the 14-yard line, Richardson rolled out to his right and delivered a strike to a wide-open Ryan Lester, who tip-toed the sidelines into the endzone to give Ringling a 35-14 lead with 8 minutes left in the game, effectively sealing the win for the Blue Devils.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I knew we had a good chance to win if we could complete that pass out there," Richardson said. "(Lyle) ran a good route and our offensive line gave me plenty of time."
    Texhoma did threaten some late heroics, grabbing a quick score thanks in part to a 40-yard circus catch by wide receiver Nathan Knitig. The play set up Texhoma with first-and-goal before running back Bryson Beattie picked up his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run.
    Texhoma then recovered a quick onside kick and drove to the redzone before quarterback Jack Powers' attempted pass to Knitig was intercepted by Braiden Willis in the endzone.
    Gandy, unable to contain his joy, ran nearly to midfield to embrace his player.
    "I got a little excited there on the sideline and I need to stop doing that," Gandy said. "But I'm just so happy and proud of our kids."
    Now comes a return to the biggest stage for Ringling, who will play Wynnewood in the Class A state championship game in Stillwater on either Friday or Saturday. Wynnewood defeated Cashion 41-28 in the other semifinal on Saturday.
    It will be the first time the Blue Devils have played for a gold ball since 2002.
    "It feels great," Dillon said. "Maybe it will liven this town up a bit."
    Seems like a safe bet.
    Spencer White
    221-6527
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