RINGLING — Not all magicians wear capes. Some, like Ringling head football coach Steve Justus wear visors.

RINGLING — Not all magicians wear capes. Some, like Ringling head football coach Steve Justus wear visors.

With several tricks up its sleeves, the Ringling Blue Devils won 56-26 in a heated rivalry game over the Healdton Bulldogs. 

Whether it be swinging gates or hook and ladder plays, the Blue Devils always had one more prestige in its win over the Bulldogs.

The rivalry game between Healdton (6-1, 2-1) and Ringling (5-1, 3-0) had  district championship implications this year, and it showed in how closely played the game was in the first half. 

After a Healdton punt with 8 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Ringling appeared to be satisfied going into the half with a 20-13 lead. A Ringling run play brought the clock to zeroes, but a personal foul against the Bulldogs gave the Blue Devils one untimed down.

“I thought we were just going to take a knee,” Ringling receiver DeWyatt Cox said. 

Instead of taking a knee, Justus summoned a trick play he’d been keeping up his sleeve all season.

Ringling quarterback Sam Van Buskirk connected with Scotty Paul on a 10-yard hitch then Paul pitched the ball to the sideline where Cox sprinted 56 yards to the house to take a 26-13 lead as time expired in the second quarter.

“We’ve been working on that play since week one,” Justus said. “We just had it in the bag and thought it was the right time for it and it came up big.”

After the hook and ladder, the Blue Devils went hollering into the locker room with all the momentum in the world. 

Ringling would never give it back.

The Blue Devils kept their foot on the pedal opening the second half with a 55-yard scoring drive.

After a 40 yard rush to put the Blue Devils within striking distance, DeWyatt Cox got his fourth touchdown of the game, leaping over a Bulldog tackler at the goalline to take a 34-13 lead.

Despite being blindsided by a 14-point scoring barrage, Healdton stiffened its spine on the next possession.

Bulldogs quarterback Denton Miller orchestrated a 50-yard scoring drive, eventually scoring on a four yard quarterback keeper to cut the lead to 34-20.

Ringling’s run heavy offense responded with its aerial attack. 

Blue Devils quarterback Scotty Paul connected with receiver Caige Calvert on a 43 pitch and catch to give Ringling a commanding 42-20 lead in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs brought the game to 42-26 after Denton Miller found the endzone from the two yard line to cut down the Blue Devils lead. 

But on its next drive, Ringling cashed in on a two play 54 yard scoring drive after Travis Wade broke free on a 53 yard rush on the first play. 

Van Buskirk would later find the endzone on a one yard touchdown rush to extend Ringling’s lead to 49-26.

Ringling kept up the pressure as Healdton fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, resutling in Ringling running back Rhett Longest scooping and scoring from 30-yards out to finish off the game.

Ringling’s DeWyatt Cox put his fingerprints all over the game, carrying the ball for 120 yards and four touchdowns in addition to converting three two-point tries and kicking one extra point in and an interception on the defensive end. 

Quarterback Scotty Paul carried the ball for 81 yards and touchdown on the ground in addition to passing for a touchdown and 64 yards through the air. 

“This is a big game, it’s hard for us to simulate their speed and what they do in practice. We got off to a slow start, but our guys made adjustments and did a great job.” 

“It’s a huge rivalry game and this year it had district championship implications,” Justus said. “it feels sweet but we got another big game out of district next week to get prepared for.” 

Healdton quarterback Denton Miller carried the ball for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries in addition to 34 yards passing. Healdton running back Dalton Gillihan carried the ball for 115 yards and a touchdown on the day. 

Ringling will play out of district next week and face Magnum (4-3, 2-2) on the road Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Magnum. Healdton meanwhile will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season in a road matchup against Elmore City-Pernell Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in Elmore City.

Healdton will then return home for a game against Apache the following week.