WILLIAMSTOWN - The ground game was the ideal savior for a potential tailspin at Ritchie County.
Friday night at Williamstown High School, the Rebels churned out 227 yards rushing and defeated the Yellowjackets, 38-31. During the past week, Ritchie County had been seeking to turn around its misfortunes following a loss to Tyler Consolidated last Friday.
"After last week and getting two of our starters back that helped immensely," Ritchie County coach Mike Dawson said. "Our kids were really focused. It was touch-and-go for us, so this win feels really good."
Photo by Michael Uhl
Ritchie County quarterback Alex Lipscomb, left, scrambles against the Williamstown defense Friday. Ritchie County won, 38-31.
Ritchie County improved to 6-3 thanks to Alex Lipscomb's management of the offense at quarterback. The senior rushed for 170 yards on 24 carries and completed 5-of-13 passes for 164 yards. He rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another.
With Lipscomb misfiring on his last seven attempts of the first half, Ritchie County stayed primarily with the run in the second half. Also contributing to the Rebels' success was Tyler Reed, who gained 57 yards on just five rushes. His 32-yard touchdown run with just under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter put his ballclub in front to stay at 28-24.
"Williamstown was trying to take the pass away and didn't have as many people in the box," Dawson said. "And that's the whole thing about the spread, if you spread them out, they spread with you."
Despite falling behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, Williamstown (7-2) answered with three scoring drives in its next four possessions to complete a first half where the two schools were knotted at 21. Twice during that span, Yellowjacket quarterback Jake Tracewell hooked up with Hunter Neely for a touchdown completion.
Tracewell, who finished the game with 82 yards on 24 carries and completed 20-of-34 passes for 220 yards, also scored from a yard out.
A Ritchie County fumble on the very first play from scrimmage of the second half gave the Yellowjackets an opportunity to take their first and only lead. Placekicker Trace Elder's 22-yard field goal completed an 11-play, 38-yard drive which moved Williamstown in front 24-21 at the 8:40 mark of the third quarter.
Two quick-hitters - a 23-yard gain by Lipscomb and Reed's 32-yard touchdown run - were the only plays Ritchie County needed to re-take the lead at 28-24.
After Williamstown went three-and-out, Ritchie County used six running plays to cover 59 yards. Lipscomb capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.
The Yellowjackets' next two series resulted in a fumble and a punt and they fell behind 38-24 when Orlando Burgy kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:49 remaining in regulation.
Williamstown didn't back off and used 16 plays along with five-plus minutes off the clock to slice the deficit to 38-31 after Tracewell found Neely at the goal line for a 7-yard touchdown reception - the third touchdown by the duo. Neely hauled in a total of eight passes for 106 yards.
With three timeouts in their pocket, the Yellowjackets attempted an onside kick, but Ritchie County recovered on the Yellowjacket 49. The Rebels converted one first down and chewed off the final 1:34 for the victory.