Bulldog defeats Ringling, rich in tradition
Nov. 8 – Stratford – For the first time in four tries, the Stratford Bulldogs defeated the tradition-rich Ringling Blue Devils by a score of 28-20 in A-4 District play.
“This was a great win for our team. I’m very proud of them,” said head coach Michael Blackburn. “They played with a lot of heart tonight and beat a very good Ringling team.
“This group of players have come a long way since the start of the season because they have great attitudes, they love each other and they are starting to play as a team, and I am very proud of them.”
The Bulldogs had a two-touchdown lead at intermission after a pair of Lincoln Hall touchdowns and a Hall touchdown pass. Ringling cut the lead to 21-20 at the end of the third quarter before Hall threw his third touchdown pass of the night, a 49-yarder to Walker Chandler, for a 28-20 lead and the win.
Chandler finished with 175 yards on eight catches with two touchdowns and a 23-yard touchdown pass. Hall finished with 287 total yards, 215 through the air, two TDs, 49 rushing and a TD and 23 receptions with a TD.
“Walker had a great game, Lincoln had a great pitching game,” Blackburn said. “The offensive line held its own and gave Lincoln some time and it worked. It was tough for Walker to deal with one-on-one so we wanted to try to take advantage of that tonight.”
Ringling’s strong ground attack finished with 240 yards on 42 carries.
Taylor Arriaga and Justin Arriaga overwhelmed the Stratford defense with 13 and 12 tackles, respectively. Josiah List added 9, Canaan Weddle and Hall 7 each, Joshua Gifford 6, and Chandler, Skyler Joslin and Lynn Hallaman five each.
“Our defense has played well the last few weeks and they keep fighting and they did enough tonight to slow down a very good rushing attack,” Blackburn said.
Hall opened the game with a 10-yard touchdown run and the Bulldogs never trailed. Hall then hauled in a 23-yard pass from Chandler for a 14-0 first quarter lead.
Will Davis would get the Blue Devils on the board midway through the second quarter with an 18-yard run.
Stratford would answer right back with Chandler hauling in a 16-yard pass from Hall for a 21-6 lead at halftime.
A pair of third-quarter touchdowns — Rance Wilson’s 28-yard pass from Caleb Taylor and Taylor’s 1-yard run — cut the deficit to 21-20. A failed two-point run after the second TD kept Ringling from taking the lead.
Chandler would come up with a huge 49-yard reception from Hall at the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter for a 28-20 lead.
The Bulldog defense will make the plays necessary to win and take second place in the region.
Stratford improved to 6-4 overall and finished 6-1 in A-4 play. Dibble won the district title by scores of 8-2, 7-0. Ringling took third place with a score of 7-3, 5-2, and Elmore City-Purnell took the fourth and final playoff spot with a score of 5-5, 4-3.
“With the win, we finished second in our region, which means we will play at home in the first round of the playoffs,” Blackburn said. “I couldn’t be more excited for a young group of guys. We play Hinton at Stratford on Friday at 7pm.”
Hinton finished third in the six-team A-3 district with a 6-4 record and a 2-3 district record. They finished in a three-way tie with Cashion and Christian Heritage in the region but edged out the other two on the point system.