The Tigers led the Velma Jackson Falcons 20-14 late in the fourth quarter in the Region 4-3A opener for both teams. Ruleville and Velma Jackson were both looking for their first win of the season and the Tigers appeared to be ready to hit the win column.
With 4:24 left in the game, however, Velma Jackson’s Emanuel Ross intercepted a pass deep in Ruleville territory and ran back for the touchdown. He also scored the 2-point conversion to give Velma Jackson a 22-20 victory on homecoming night for the Tigers. The touchdown and 2-point conversion by Ross gave the Falcons (1-6) their only lead of the game which ended up being enough.
The biggest thing that hindered the Tigers (0-7) were turnovers and miscues as they committed three turnovers and seven holding penalties which hurt their drives on offense.
“We’re getting better,” Ruleville Central head coach Jerry Walker said. “We’re lacking focus in some areas with all the holding penalties and things of that nature. Those are what we call drive killers as they stopped a couple of drives tonight. We just don’t know how to win. If we can get a win under our belts, I think we’ll be fine. I’m disappointed that we didn’t win, but I’m proud of the way our guys played.”
Ruleville scored on its first two possession of the game in the first quarter as Ontario Smith threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to Kadarius Jefferson and Lapatrick Shaffer marched on a 21-yard run. Shaffer had also scored a 2-point conversion after the first touchdown.
The defense for the Tigers had a bend but don’t break attitude as well. The Falcons on their first possession of the game drove the ball all the way down to Ruleville 4-yard line. The defense, led by Ricky Scott, Dewuan Harris and Deandre Fields, stopped the Falcons and kept them off the board. Scott also recovered a fumble on a kick return. When the first quarter came to an end, the Tigers led 14-0.
The Falcons found their groove in the second quarter as Jeremy Wilson and Ross each scored rushing touchdowns with the defense getting a safety. Ross’ touchdown tied the score at 14-14 with 3:59 left on the clock.
Ruleville was able to get the lead before halftime as Scott intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown with five seconds left on the clock to give the Tigers a 20-14 going into the lockerroom at halftime.
Scott had a terrific night for the Tigers as he intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. He also made several tackles during the course of the night. Fields, Shaffer and Chivas Warren also made some big plays on defense.
On offense, Shaffer led the Tigers’ ground game.
Ruleville will return to the football field on Friday when the team hits the road to Leland to play the Leland High School Cubs in another Region 4-3A game.