RULEVILLE — The magic ran out Friday night for the Ruleville Central Tigers who hosted the Choctaw County Chargers in the second round of the 3A State Playoffs.
Ruleville, who defeated Kossuth in the first round of the playoffs last week, entered Friday night's ball game hoping to continue that success. The end results were not favorable as the Tigers fell 35-0 to end the season at 5-7. Choctaw County improved to 10-2 and will play North Panola in the third round.
Tigers’ head coach Mario Lane spoke about the team's effort and growth throughout the season.
"Coming in I wanted to put my own footprint on things,” Lane said. “We introduced a lot of new things and the kids started grasping what we wanted to do about mid season. I noticed each week we were getting better and better and by district time we were moving pretty good. I'm proud of the work from the guys and I think we have a lot to build on going into the off season.”
The second round appearance for the Tigers marked the first time the team had been there since 2010 when they lost to Water Valley 31-0 after beating Leflore County in the first round 30-24.
"We knew we had a good shot going into that first round game against Kossuth and the guys played hard and got the victory," said Lane.
"Tonight in order to win we were going to have to match their intensity, stay disciplined and have guys make plays. We fell short in doing those things tonight," he added.
The Tigers started the contest on the wrong foot by fumbling away the opening kickoff.
The Chargers recovered the ball on the Tigers' 33-yard line and with 6:42 on the opening quarter clock, Laterrion McBride scored from one-yard out. The two-point conversion was good to give the Chargers an 8-0 lead.
Ruleville responded by driving the ball right back down the field, but on first and goal from the nine-yard line, Joseph Perez's pass into the back of the end zone was intercepted by Austin Telano to stop the Tigers’ drive.
Later in the second quarter, the Tigers were driving again, but once again the drive was ended when a pass from Perez was tipped and intercepted by Rakeim Ashford.
The Chargers were able to put points on the board off a five-yard run with 13 seconds remaining in the first half. Austin Fulgham added the point after for a 15-0 lead, which would be the score at halftime.
"Turnovers were the storyline of the night for us," said Lane. "The fact that we were able to move the ball up and down the field, but weren’t able to capitalize in the red zone sums up the night for us.
"I thought the defense played well in the first half and in the second half we just lost our composure and they were able to close the game out," Lane added,
McBride scored with 7:33 left in the third quarter from one-yard out. The conversion attempt failed but Choctaw led 21-0.
Perez completed a big pass to Rodrickus Appleberry, but in his attempt to fight for more yards he lost the ball and Choctaw County recovered.
With the turnover, the Chargers surged right up the field and with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter Amerious Brown scored on a 20-yard run for a 27-0 lead.
The Chargers added one more score in the fourth quarter off a four-yard pass from Telano to Isaiah Hannah with 6:55 on the clock. The conversion pass from Telano to Isreal Whitmore was good for a 35-0 victory.
For Ruleville on offense, Perez completed 13-of-22 passes for 121 yards with two interceptions, Appleberry caught five passes for 76 yards and Randarious Maxon rushed five times for 30 yards and caught six passes for 23 yards.
On defense for Ruleville, Jeremiah Surney recorded 16 tackles, Jason Womack had 10 tackles and Quinn Perkins finished the evening with five tackles including two sacks.