The loss was the first this year in eight starts for Ranburne, now 5-1 in Region 6. Wellborn is 5-3, including 5-1 in the region. If Ranburne defeats region-leader Fultondale at home next week and Wellborn downs Pleasant Valley, each of the three will finish the region race 6-1.
“We had kids make plays that weren’t even on the field for us last year. That’s a great thing to be a part of,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said.
One of those players was tight end Corri Tignor.
Trailing by five points with 2:30 on the clock, Wellborn moved 83 yards in seven plays for the winning score. Most of the damage came on four consecutive pass completions by quarterback Landon Machristie, three going to Tignor.
On third-and-14 from the Wellborn 13-yard line, Machristie lofted a pass toward Tignor and the 6-foot-1 junior soared to make a grab good for just enough yardage for a first down.
On the next snap, the pair combined for 36 yards and a first down at the Ranburne 37. A pass over the middle to Robbie Tucker was good for 14 yards then it was Tignor’s turn again. His 18-yard reception put the Panthers at the Bulldogs’ 5.
Tignor said he had not had three receptions in a game all season, much less three in the same possession.
“I was just focusing, staying level-headed for my team,” Tignor said.
Added Smith: “Last year, Corri was a kid that was a ‘B’ team player at best. That’s how much he’s improved.”
Added Ranburne coach Chad Young: “We just didn’t finish. We had them and they made a play right there. That long 40 or 50-yard pass got them back a little wind.”
After a Wellborn timeout with 45 seconds to go, the Panthers got a little help when the Bulldogs were offside.
On first-and-goal from the 3, Machristie scored on a sneak and a 2-point conversion put Wellborn ahead to stay with 41 seconds left. Ranburne got one first down but could not get past midfield
Wellborn’s late heroics spoiled a second half rally by Ranburne. The Bulldogs trailed 21-14 at halftime then used scoring drives of 36 yards in the third quarter and 65 yards in the fourth to take a 26-21 lead with 5:47 to play. Each drive ended on a pass from sophomore quarterback Dylan Wiggins to junior wide receiver Brayden Wilson deep in the end zone.
The first score came from 15 yards out on a fourth-and-two call and the second on third-and-goal from the 6.
The first half was a seesaw affair as Wellborn scored twice and Ranburne answered twice. Chantz Goodman tallied on runs of four and 91 yards for the Panthers, once in the first quarter and once in the second.
Ranburne got second-quarter scores on a blocked punt and return by Donovan Tullis and a 36-yard shuffle pass touchdown from quarterback Dylan Wiggins to Dylan Tullis. Wellborn broke the deadlock with 2:39 left in the half when Machristie hit Devron Taylor for a 54-yard touchdown bomb.
Young wasn’t sure how the Bulldogs would respond after their first loss but he had a pretty good idea.
“I think we’ll regroup and be fine,” Young said.
Goodman ran 14 times for 133 yards. Machristie was 6-for-7 passing for 157 yards with one interception.
Dylan Tullis gained 94 yards on the ground on 22 tries and had seven receptions for 125 yards. Wiggins was 13-for-23 passing for 179 yards.