SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WRCB) -- The scoreboard showed a lopsided result, but it didn't feel that way for D.L. Goins.
The Ringgold running back hugged a few teammates and took a few moments to himself to let the Tigers' season-ending loss fully sink in.
It was all about perspective.
"We made history," Goins said. "It was a great run."
That run, which included the first three playoff wins and first 10-win season program history, ended with a 37-0 shut out at unbeaten Washington County in Friday night's Class AAA state semifinals.
The Tigers' first-ever appearance in the final four closed the record-breaking year with an 11-3 overall record.
"This is an historic event for us, just playing in the semifinals," said head coach Robert Akins. "We'll get better between now and next year, but I'm just so proud of these kids and what they've done for Ringgold High School."
Melvin Hill rushed for three scores and added a 99-yard punt return touchdown to fuel the Golden Hawks, who entered the night averaging better than 50 points and 500 yards per game.
A few big plays proved to be the dagger for Ringgold's otherwise stout defense, which "held" WaCo to 261 yards rushing. Hill's first score came on a 59-yard draw, and the Golden Hawks followed with 70-yard pass-play from A.J. Gray to D.J. Sanders on the following possession for a 15-0 lead.
Hill later added two more scores and finished with 118 yards on the ground, but his shining moment came on special teams. He chased down a punt at the one-yard line, bobbled but recovered in time to make a few quick moves and jet 99-yards up the sideline to make it 30-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Tigers had a few opportunities to steal back momentum during the Golden Hawks' first-half flurry, but a failed fourth-down conversion and an interception ended two drives in WaCo territory.
It didn't help that dual-threat quarterback Slade Dale wasn't much of a threat, mustering just 55 total yards while playing through a knee injury. Still, there were no excuses from Dale and the Tigers, only warm reflections on a bar raised for the future.
"I think we started a tradition here, especially with Coach Akins," Dale said. "It's been an honor to play for him and play these last four years here. He's turning this program around."
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