Ariton falls to Dale County

Published 11:43 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

The Purple Cats of Ariton played host to the Dale County Warriors in an interclass season-opening matchup that saw Dale County take the victory, 41-19.

Dale County only ran three plays in the first six minutes of the game but two of them resulted in six points.

After forcing an Ariton three-and-out, the Warriors struck first with a 55 yard touchdown strike from Damarius Jenkins to David Andrews.

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A couple of empty Ariton drives and a Dale County fumble later, Jenkins connected with Deonte Henderson for an 86-yard touchdown on a screen pass to go up 13-0.

Following the touchdown drive, Ariton began piecing together its first long drive thanks to a 32-yard pass from Maddux Herring to Bryson Peavey.

Immediately following the catch, though, running back Jackson Blair fumbled just outside the red zone to end the drive.

The first quarter ended with Ariton on the right side of the 50 again. The Purple Cat drive lasted eight plays and five of them were Peavey runs.

Peavey gained 30 rushing yards and capped the drive with a four-yard score to put Ariton on the board, 13-7.

The drive gave Ariton momentum, which it used on defense to force and recover a fumble on the Warriors’ second play.

Following the same strategy as the previous drive, Ariton ran the same play four consecutive times and it culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Peavey. The extra point was wide left, leaving the score tied at 13 with 7:06 remaining in the first half.

With all the energy seemingly gone from the Warriors, Jeffrey Lightner turned a dropped kickoff into a long touchdown return to quickly go back on top. A two point conversion made the score 21-13.

Ariton nearly responded, picking up a 40 yard return on the ensuing kickoff.

A stroke of luck moved the ball into Dale County territory when a fumble bounced its way forward and out of bounds. The Purple Cats were forced to punt, though, but another lucky bounce gave Ariton six points.

The punt hit a Dale County player and rolled into the endzone, where an Ariton player fell on top of it for a touchdown. After a missed extra point, the Warriors lead was trimmed to 21-19.

Dale County then embarked a long drive from its own 30, used a pair of strong runs by Gregg Lindor to put itself into field goal range and gave itself a 24-19 lead on a 27 yard field goal at halftime.

The Warriors had 133 first quarter yards but just 63 in the second quarter for a total of 196 first half yards.

Dale County opened the second half with a kick return out to the Ariton 38-yard line. Six plays and 11 yards later, Hernandez knocked in a 43-yard field goal off the crossbar to put the Warriors up 27-19.

Dale County started the final quarter with a 23 yard run by Henderson and a 25 yard run by Lindor. The drive ended with a 13 yard touchdown run by from Jenkins to stretch the Warrior lead to 34-19.

After Ariton failed to move the ball, Dale County continued to increase its lead with a four-play touchdown drive that featured a run from three different players.

Down 41-19, Ariton ran the ball seven straight times to start an 11 play drive that ended with an interception.

Dale County took over, knelt twice and ended the game.

“We could’ve played better,” Ariton head coach Steven Kilcrease said following the game. “We got to give (Dale County) a lot of credit, they’re a good football team.”

Ariton goes on the road next week to face regional foe Goshen.