The two football scores that mattered most in Ranburne on Friday night were Ranburne 24, Vincent 10 and Woodland 29, Horseshoe Bend 19. Both the Bulldogs and the Bobcats won on the road. Taken together, the two results put Ranburne into the AHSAA Class 2A football playoffs as the No. 4 team from Region 5. Both Ranburne (4-5) and Vincent ended region play at 3-4. Woodland’s first win of the season for new head coach Jeremy Stanford left Horseshoe Bend 2-5 in region games, preventing a three-way tie for fourth. Ranburne’s head-to-head win over Vincent earned the Bulldogs a playoff berth.
“The joy on their faces when we finally got the word around that Woodland had won also was priceless,” Ranburne head coach Stephen Bailey said. “To see them work as hard as they’ve worked and come up short and continue to answer the call every week and finally have something good happen, it was a good moment – a really, really good moment – just to see what joy they had.”
As the No. 4 team from Region 5, Ranburne will play on the road on Nov. 10 against the winner of Region 7. Cleveland, Falkville and Tarrant each ended region play at 5-1 with Cleveland defeating Tarrant, Falkville beating Cleveland and Tarrant downing Falkville.
First, there’s the matter of a home game Friday against Randolph County, headed for the Class 3A playoffs as the No. 2 team in its region. Bailey said it was unlikely that a number of Bulldogs who are nursing injuries will see the field against the Tigers of coach Pat Prestridge.
“We’re going to go into that game and try to be competitive. We’re going to try to do what we’ve been doing to keep the momentum going but at the end of the day I think both of us – Pat and I have talked – just want to stay healthy for the playoffs,” Bailey said.
In the win over Vincent, the Bulldogs rode workhorse running back Aaron Benefield who ran the ball 31 times for 205 yards. Benefield scored his team’s first two touchdowns. His first came on a 1-yard run at the end of a 60-yard march during which Benefield carried on 10 of the 11 plays. His second touchdown, from three yards out, put the Bulldogs up 12-3 with 9:13 to play before halftime.
Vincent closed to within three points at 12-10 by returning an interception 50 yards with 1:18 left in the first half. Bailey said the interception was the result of his poor play call. The Bulldogs then executed their two-minute offense to perfection and scored with 1.6 second left in the half on an 18-yard pass from Josh Ralston to Jake Burson. At the break, Ranburne led 18-10.
The ball went to Vincent to start the second half but the Bulldogs stopped a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
“To be able to finish that drive and get a score out of it right before the half after we had given them one I thought was very big. The other moment that I thought was huge was their ensuing possession after halftime when we stopped them at the 1. I though those two were probably the biggest plays of the game,” Bailey said.
The Bulldogs followed the stop with a 99-yard drive that milked most of the rest of the third quarter off the clock. Sam Calvert’s 3-yard run over right tackle with 34 seconds remaining in the third made it 24-10.
Burson ended with 68 yards on seven carries. Calvert ran eight times for 27 yards and Ralston had one carry for 13 yards. Benefield’s 9-yard catch was the only other completion for the Bulldogs in nine attempts.
“We wanted to keep it from them. We were getting pretty good chunks early so there wasn’t a reason to change what we were doing,” Bailey said.
Benefield and Hayden Simmons each recorded seven tackles. Simmons had four quarterback sacks and one additional tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Benefield had one sack and four additional tackles for loss.
Sean Pollard and Spencer Jordan each made six stops. Ralston and Landon Woodard had five tackles each. Two of Woodard’s came behind the line. He also forced and then recovered a fumble.
Burson had four tackles. Calvert and Hunter Hoillis had three tackles and Brennen Gaines two. Tye Bailey, Damon Calhoun, Caleb Hornsby, Jeremiah McCord and Brock Young made one tackle apiece.