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Ringold routs Laurel Highlands

| Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Twenty-one seconds.

That's how long it took for the Ringgold football team to turn a one-possession game into a 57-14 blowout over Laurel Highlands Friday in a Class AAA Big Nine Conference game at Joe Montana Stadium.

Rams quarterback Nico Law passed for three touchdowns – two to wideout Alan Pritchett – on just five completions while rushing for a game-high 103 yards and another score.

But the game turned after Laurel Highlands quarterback Jimmy Pierce laced a touchdown pass to Dominic Galderisi from 8 yards out, cutting Ringgold's lead to 14-7, with 50 seconds remaining in the first half.

That's when Ringgold scored consecutive touchdowns in less time than it takes a play clock to tick down between snaps. Junior Brandon Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff to the Mustangs' 30, and after successive personal fouls against Laurel Highlands put the ball at the 7, Law faked a handoff and bootlegged right into the end zone with 32 seconds left for a two-touchdown lead.

Laurel Highlands then returned its kickoff to midfield, but Pierce's pass ricocheted off receiver Chad Livingston and Rams sophomore linebacker Chacar Berry grabbed the deflection and raced down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown return with 11 seconds left on the clock.

Law ran for a two-point conversion, and the Rams took a 29-7 lead into halftime, giving Ringgold 15 points in the blink of an eye.

“You could feel the energy on our sideline when we made it 14-7, and at that point, us and everyone else thought we would go in down by a touchdown and getting the ball in the second half,” Laurel Highlands coach Zach Just said. “It just deflated us. These kids are struggling getting over the hump and a series like that just deflates these kids and my heart breaks for them because of that.”

Not to be outdone, the Ringgold defense stifled the Mustangs mid-line option rushing attack to 71 yards on 24 first-half carries. Pierce finished 8-of-17 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown, but the Rams intercepted him twice.

“That's always a scary thing to defend where the quarterback reads the inside tackles and it can be deadly,” Ringgold coach Matt Humbert said. “My defensive coordinator Bret Berrish really prepared the kids well and we did a hell of job stopping them.”

In the second half, Ringgold scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions: a 10-yard run by Matt Kirby, a 38-yard run by Berry, a 40-yard pass from Law to a wide-open Pritchett and an 80-yard run by D'Andre Alforel. The Rams also notched a safety when Laurel Highlands botched a snap to punter Drew DeBerry and he kicked the rolling ball out of the back of the end zone.

Law passed for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to Pritchett and Luke Baldesberger to put the Rams up 14-0. The first score was set up by a leaping interception at the line of scrimmage by Ringgold defensive lineman Aaron Szakal.

Law set up the second score with a spectacular 65-yard run where he escaped the grasp of two would-be tacklers and reversed field before getting forced out of bounds at the Laurel Highlands 9.

Law could've connected on another long touchdown to Pritchett could not haul in a nearly-perfect bomb down the far sideline that traveled nearly 50 yards in the air. In all, Rams receivers also dropped three passes.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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