VALLEY HEAD — Ragland quarterback Owen Schall threw three touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the Purple Devils to a 28-22 victory over the Valley Head Tigers in the opening round of the Class 1A state playoffs last week.
Ragland head football coach Wes Tidwell said any win in the playoffs is a good win.
“I’m extremely proud of our players and our fans,” Tidwell said. “I can’t stress enough how proud I am to be the coach here at Ragland.”
All three of Schall’s touchdown passes came in the first half as Ragland took a 22-0 advantage into the locker room.
Schall tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Turner halfway through the first quarter to make it 6-0.
The Purple Devils added to their lead in the second quarter following a Valley Head fumble. On third-and-13, Schall connected with Kentrell Turner for an 80-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good as Schall threw to Brett Sisson to make it 14-0 with nine minutes left in the first half.
The Tigers moved the football from their own 27-yard line to the Ragland 15-yard line where they turned the ball over on downs.
Facing third down and 10 from his own 30, Schall completed a 35-yard pass to Ezra Hill to move the ball to the Tiger 35. Two plays later, Schall threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kentrell Turner with 1:30 left before halftime. Schall ran in the two-point conversion to make the halftime score 22-0.
The third quarter was all Valley Head as they scored two touchdowns to get back in the game. They scored on a 45-yard run and added a two-point conversion to make it 22-8.
Then, the Tigers blocked a Ragland punt and took over at the Purple Devil four-yard line. Two plays later, they scored on a two-yard run to make the score 22-14 late in the third quarter.
“I felt like we did some things that helped Valley Head stay in the game,” Tidwell said. “We had a few busts on defense that led to some big plays and a touchdown. We had a punt blocked that led to a score.
"But overall, I think our defense played better than the score indicated. Coach Eden, Coach Hay and Coach Merritt have done a great job on defense and they continue to improve.”
Ragland moved the ball 52 yards in four plays to end the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Schall scored on a 5-yard keeper. The extra point was no good and Ragland’s lead was 28-14.
The final score of the night came with just over two minutes left in the game as the Valley Head quarterback scored his third touchdown on a 47-yard run. The two-point conversion was no good.
Ragland’s offense was able to run out the clock and hold on to the 28-20 victory.
Tidwell said Valley Head tried to take Jordan Turner out of the game but Kentrell Turner, Ethan Courtney and Ezra Hill stepped up and had great games. Coach Williams and Coach Ball have done a great job with our wide receivers.”
Tidwell said Owen Schall had another great night and continues to put up great numbers.
Schall completed 13 of 23 passes for 289 yards.
“Coach Joiner made some great calls and put us in great situations,” Tidwell added. “We have a great administration and leadership with Mrs. Ball and Mrs. Clark. All of our athletic programs are going to be impressive for years to come.”
Ragland (9-2) will now host the Decatur Heritage Christian Eagles (9-2) in the second round of the state playoffs Friday. The Eagles lost their first two games of the season and have reeled off nine straight wins.
“Decatur Heritage is a very good football team,” Tidwell said. “Their quarterback is a great player, and they have some guys that can do it. They always put up points and get after you on defense. It should be a good football game. These are the types of games you want to play in. Our team will be ready to play.”