The Ringgold football team made another lengthy trip to the Mars Athletic Complex on Friday night for a WPIAL Playoff first round match-up. The Rams were seeking revenge, after the Fighting Planets eliminated Ringgold from last year’s playoffs.
The first half has a back-and-forth battle with both offenses getting their share of points. After Mars went 76-yards on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead, it was their defense that was able to hold the Rams scoreless in the opening quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Ringgold senior Justin Mayer recovered a fumble in Mars territory. Ringgold would get on the board several plays later on a short touchdown run by quarterback George Martin. The Fighting Planets would answer on their next drive to regain a 14-7 advantage, but Brian Vandusen brought the Ringgold fans to their feet when he returned the ensuing kick-off 84-yards to the tie game at 14.
Both teams would score again in the quarter, but Mars held a 28-21 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Mars would add to its lead on a 32-yard field goal to make the score 31-21. Martin would find Dalton Holt in the end zone just before the end of the quarter to cut the deficit to 31-28.
Trailing heading into the fourth quarter, the Ringgold defense knew it had to step up. A huge stop by Mayer on third down forced Mars to punt and on Ringgold’s ensuing possession, Martin would once again find an open receiver down field. This time is was Easton Fine who hauled in the touchdown to give the Rams a 35-31 lead.
Ringgold prevented Mars from mounting a comeback partly in thanks to Dalton Holt’s two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Holt would also add 10 tackles on the night.
Martin would go on to add a 1-yard touchdown run to put the game away. The senior quarterback finished the game going 19-31 for 260 yards with three touchdown passes and ran for two more.
Final score: Ringgold 42, Mars 31.
Junior Max Maciejewski and sophomore Tyrese Youngblood also led the Rams offensively. Maciejewski finished with 113 yards on 9 receptions and a touchdown. Youngblood, who filled in for the injured Brenden Small, finished with 98 yards rushing on 11 carries.
With the win, the Rams improved to 8-2 (6-2) and advanced to the WPIAL Semifinals for the first time since 2014. The Rams will play the New Castle Red Hurricanes for the second time in a month, with Ringgold winning the first match-up 41-27. The game will be played at the Mars Athletic Complex with kick-off set for 7:30pm.