The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Ringling’s repeat bid falls short

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  • CACHE — The Ringling Blue Devils could not overcome a strong Hollis running game Thursday, and they fell to the Tigers 29-12 in the Class A state championship game played at Ulrich Stadium. The Tiger running game, especially in the first half, carved up large chunks of yards en route to three touchdowns. The Blue Devils made halftime adjustments that limited Hollis to just one second half score. Ringling was simply unable to march down the field after halftime. Hollis (14-0) scored its first touchdown just three minutes into the game. A 55-yard run by Keegan Macias gave the Tigers a first down at the Ringling four-yard line. From there, sophomore quarterback Gunnar Ewing took it in from a yard out for an 8-0 Hollis lead. Ringling 12-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class A most of the year got on the board early in the second quarter when Slade Stewart skirted around the right end for a 4-yard touchdown run to cut Hollis’ lead to 8-6. The Tigers quickly increased their lead on the next possession. A 67-yard run by Holden Gullihard took the ball to the Blue Devil 8 yard line. Three plays later, Ewing hit Macias with a 4-yard scoring toss for a 16-6 lead. “All the credit goes to the Hollis Tigers and their staff tonight,” Ringling coach Tracy Gandy said. “They schemed us so well, and they got the upper hand on us quick with those long runs. We knew they were coming with those plays, but we could not make the tackles when needed. You have to have a lucky break here and there. Tonight we didn’t get those breaks, and it hurt our chances.” Ringling was forced to punt on its next possession. This time, Hollis moved from its own 42-yard line for a third touchdown. A 6-yard run by Kalub Williams put the Tigers on top 23-6 with three minutes left before intermission. But the Blue Devils moved momentum to their side when they drove the length of the field 65 yards for a touchdown just before the break. Quarterback Taner Richardson hit Austin Rogers with a 10-yard scoring toss to cut the Tigers’ lead to 23-12 at the break. “We believed we had figured out some things at halftime to stop their offense,” Gandy said. “And it might have been a different game had we been able to score on our first possession of the second half. But when that didn’t happen, momentum swung back to their side. What was so unfortunate about it was it happened to a young man that almost never fumbles. That changed some things drastically right there.” Ringling took the second half kick-off and marched all the way to the Hollis 1 yard line. But on the next play, a pitch from Richardson to Slade Stewart was fumbled, and Hollis recovered the loose ball to turn the Blue Devils away. The Tigers scored their final touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter when Williams ran in from 19 yards out for a 29-12 lead. Ringling was unable to mount an offensive attack with Hollis riding a surge of momentum with its defensive unit. Hollis finished the game with 48 rushing plays for 345 yards compared to 35 carries and 188 yards for Ringling. Carlos Herrera led the Tigers with 20 carries for 106 yards, and Macias had 104 yards on seven carries. Stewart led the Blue Devils with 18 carries for 122 yards. “I know two outstanding men won state titles tonight: Hollis’ Reade Box and Davis’ Jody Weber,” Gandy said. “Both are quality men, and I am very happy for them. For me, I could not be prouder to be a Blue Devil. This team has overcome a lot of adversity this year, and this senior bunch has left the Ringling football program better than they found it. I can tell you this for sure: The sun will come out tomorrow, and it will always shine on the Ringling Blue Devils.”
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