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Red Bay stings Winston Co. 34-16

By Staff
Stephen Moore
Franklin County Times
RED BAY – The Red Bay Tigers successfully defended their home against a swarm of invading Yellow Jackets as they defeated Winston County 34-14 Friday night in Fred G. Bostick Jr. Stadium. The homecoming victory kept Red Bay (6-0) atop the Class 2A, Region 8 playoff race.
"We want to go further then our 10 regular-season games," said Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys. "To do that we have to step up to the challenge every week. When someone tries to give it back to us and play us hard in a ballgame, we've got to step up and play them back even harder."
Following the well-attended pre-game homecoming ceremonies, Red Bay's offense drove steadily through its humid home stadium to draw first blood. Senior running back Josh Senkbeil raced around right end for a touchdown with 6:53 to go in the first quarter, and seconds later Pablo Makepeace's sure foot made it 7-0 Red Bay.
Winston County's Yellow Jackets struggled to respond, finally gaining a first down despite two penalties, but Joe McKinney's interception ended that drive with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
Just over a minute later, senior quarterback Anthony Horton hit Cody Armstrong with a 20-yard TD pass to make it 14-0 Red Bay after Makepeace's PAT.
The game then slowed down as the host team forced a Yellow Jacket punt only to see its own long drive finally fizzle with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal. Winston County's offense posted a three-and-out, but the clocked killed Red Bay's last drive of the half.
"Things sort of went into neutral for a while," Jeffreys said. "Our defense played as well as I've ever seen anyone play, but our offense couldn't convert yards and first downs into points."
The second half saw more of the same, with punts ending its first three drives. With 51 seconds left in the third period, Horton hit Makepeace from 20 yards out to make it 21-0 Tigers.
Winston County soon responded as the fourth quarter saw an explosion of offense. Yellow Jacket quarterback Bret Bryson hit senior Adam Flanigan with a 50-yard bomb to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass that put the visitors on the board with 11 minutes left in the game. A missed extra point attempt left it 21-6 Red Bay.
Makepeace fumbled the kickoff return but John Thigpen recovered the ball for the Tigers, setting up a Red Bay drive that ended with a Horton score on a quarterback keeper play with 7:24 left in the game.
With the score 28-6, Winston County tried trick plays and long passes to unnerve the Tigers but a 40-yard gain was erased when McKinney recovered the fumbled reception to give Red Bay the ball on its own 34. Backup quarterback Cody Palmer led the Red Bay assault, hitting fellow sophomore Dustin McCarthy with a 13-yard pass that made it 34-6 Tigers.
There was still at least one sting left in the Yellow Jackets as Bryson hit Josh Bennett for a 25-yard touchdown strike with 2:39 remaining in the game. Bryson connected with favorite target Flanigan for the 2-point conversion that made it 34-14.
Winston County's comeback hopes were pinned on an onside kick, but they were dashed when Red Bay took possession with little more than two minutes left in the fourth. Two first downs later, the clock expired as Palmer took a knee on the game's final play.
Red Bay returns to the road next Friday night to face Cherokee in a key region game at 7 p.m.
"Cherokee has a couple of players that can be real explosive if you don't get them hemmed in," Jeffreys said. "We are going to have to work harder in our Monday and Wednesday practices to get where we need to be as a team."