Adairsville had lost to Cass in each of the last two season openers, and Friday’s victory was the first victory in an opener for the Tigers since they defeated Ridgeland on opening day in 2011.
Adairsville managed to lead at halftime by a score of 7-6 despite being outgained by 166 yards and only running eight offensive plays in the first half, including a kneel down on the team’s last possession of the second quarter.
The Tigers would go on to dominate the second half behind a stong defense and rushing attack, outgaining Ridgeland 309-44 in the final two quarters of play.
The strong second half featured several standout performances.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Applin is a returning three-year starter and an all-county selection in 2013. However, if Friday night is any indication, Applin is primed for his best season yet.
Applin got off to a strong start when he forced a fumble on a bone-jarring hit on Ridgeland’s first possession. Ridgeland was driving and had already moved the ball 37 yards, but Adairsville recovered the fumble to end the drive.
The next play was a double reverse to Applin, who avoided several would-be tacklers for a 22-yard gain. The run accounted for most of Adairsville’s 29 yards of offense in the half.
Applin had eight tackles in the first half, five of them were on third or fourth down, preventing Ridgeland from scoring more than the one touchdown in the half.
Applin had eight more tackles in the second half, three on third or fourth down, including another vicious hit on a fake punt on fourth down to stop the runner inches short of a first down. The stop set up a two-play, 30-yard drive by the offense to take a 28-14 lead with 6:41 remaining.
Appropriately, Applin was the player who sealed the game on an interception with four minutes remaining.
BEST OF THE REST
Ridgeland did an excellent job of containing Johnson in the first half as the junior pistol back ran for just three yards on his three carries. However, Johnson was the workhorse in the second half for Adairsville, running for 116 yards on 13 carries. Six of Johnson’s carries went for first downs in the half. His 30-yard run set up a Marcus Childers touchdown on the next play for Adairsville’s final score.
The junior slotback had just two carries, but made the most of them with 51 yards and a touchdown. He had carries of 36 and 15 yards. He showed strong open field running ability as he navigated the sideline and several potential Ridgeland tacklers on his 36-yard carry that set up a score two plays later.
Childers threw two interceptions on the game, but each was a well thrown ball. A receiver fell down on his interception on the first possession of the second half. The second interception looked to be thrown well to an open receiver for a touchdown, but Ridgeland’s Chase Crawford stepped in front.
“We gave up an interception on an unbelievable play by [Crawford],” head coach Eric Bishop said of the play.
Besides the two interceptions, Childers went 6-for-6 in the second half for 58 yards.
Childers also contributed with his legs as he ran seven times for 57 yards in the second half, including a 10-yard touchdown.
Lane scored the only touchdown of the first half for the Tigers on an 85-yard kickoff return. He also contributed a key pass breakup with five minutes left in the game to help stymie Ridgeland’s comeback attempt.