Red Bay season ends with quarterfinal loss
Jeffrey Lee For the FCT
WOODLAND - Red Bay senior quarterback Kurt Kennedy completed 15 of 27 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown and Brian Humphries had five receptions for 91 yards and a score, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers were eliminated from the state playoffs Friday night in Woodland with a 36-14 loss to the Bobcats.
"We got whipped," said Red Bay head coach Dale Jeffreys. "We weren't ready to play and their team played great. They just ran right at us. We couldn't stop them and we couldn't move the ball down the field."
The Tigers' biggest problem of the night came from the Bobcats' 5-foot-10, 160-pound Mr. Do-It-All sophomore Trae Strain.
Strain, whose father is Woodland head coach Larry Strain, piled up 203 all-purpose yards including two touchdowns, two two-point conversion runs and two interceptions.
"He played a very good ball game tonight," said the elder Strain of his son. "He caught several big passes and had those two interceptions. But he'll be the first to tell you that there were 10 other guys out there on the field to help."
Although Red Bay finished the night slow, they did manage a fast start. After forcing Woodland's offense to a three-and-out on the first series of the game, the Tigers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.
Behind the arm of Kennedy, the Tigers (12-1) took their opening possession and marched down the field. Kennedy connected with Randy Lowery for a 22-yard gain on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage and then with Humphries for a 30-yard hook-up to the Woodland 8-yard line.
Following an off-sides penalty on the Bobcats, Kennedy finished what he started when he ran in from three yards out. After a Chris Frame extra-point kick, the Tigers had their first lead of the night at 7-0 with 8:31 remaining in the opening quarter.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, it would be their first and last lead.
On the ensuing possession, Woodland quickly responded with an impressive drive of their own. The Bobcats put together a nine-play, 57-yard drive that was capped with a 6-yard touchdown run by Strain.
The sophomore then ran in the two-point conversion to give Woodland a one-point edge.
The Tigers didn't have much of an opportunity to answer the Bobcats.
On their first play following the kickoff, Kennedy fumbled and Woodland's Michael Whaley recovered on the Red Bay 35-yard line.
The Tiger defense appeared to have stopped the bleeding after they forced the Bobcats to a fourth-and-13 situation. However, Woodland decided to go for it and it turned out to be a good decision. Red Bay was flagged for pass-interference that gave the Bobcats a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down at the Tiger 23-yard line. On the next play, Strain went up the middle for his second score of the quarter and a 14-7 lead.
The Bobcats didn't look back. Woodland scored again in the second quarter on a John Ward-to-David Wyatt 36-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 22-7.
Red Bay did manage to cut the lead to eight before halftime when Kennedy hooked up with Humphries on a fourth-and-12 play for a 36-yard touchdown pass with just 18 seconds left.
The Tigers went into the locker room down only 22-14, but it would be as close as they came to the Bobcats the remainder of the night.
"We came out and made them go three-and-out and then we went down and scored, but after that we were lax," said Jeffreys. "We tried to play wide open. We didn't win field position. They just out-played us in every phase of the game."
Woodland's defense shut out the Tigers in the second half and the offense added two more scores, the last one coming on a one-yard dive by Alex Higgins with 2:20 left in the game.
Red Bay's only scoring threat of the second half came on their opening possession. The Tigers drove down to the Bobcat 36-yard line and appeared to be headed for the potential game-tying score. However, on third-and-11, Kennedy was intercepted by Strain who returned it 65 yards to the Tiger 19-yard line. Four plays later, Jay Gibbs plunged in from two yards out to take away any momentum Red Bay had coming out of the locker room.
"We have a good team, but we got beat by a good team tonight," Jeffreys said. "We've done a great job to get to this point, but it wasn't our night tonight."
Although Kennedy finished with more than 200 yards passing, he was held to just 53 yards on the ground. It was all part of the Bobcat scheme according to Strain.
"We felt like it was going to be a scoring contest," said Strain. "We knew that (Kennedy) threw and ran it real well, but we were more scared of his running. We had to take something away and we tried to take the run away and contain the pass.
"I thought we did well containing him. Our two defensive ends did a good job. We were expecting them to run the option, but they didn't run it much if at all tonight."
Senior Bradley Long led all Tiger receivers with eight catches for 50 yards and Lowery added six receptions for 89 yards.
Woodland will face Clay County in the semifinals.