Red Bay tops No. 8 Wildcats 35-28

TUSCUMBIA — Red Bay wanted to get the region schedule off to a strong start this season, and it seemed as though the Tigers would be able to do that by a comfortable margin against Colbert Heights.

With a convincing 27-7 lead early in the third quarter the game appeared to be headed for a landslide victory for Red Bay — then Colbert Heights rattled off 14 consecutive points.

The tenth-ranked Tigers survived the rally and improved their record to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 2A, Region 8 with a 35-28 victory against the Wildcats.

“I told our kids at halftime this was a long way from over,” said Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys. “I’m awful proud of my team. Colbert Heights never quits.”

Red Bay dominated on both sides of the ball in the first quarter. Matt Senkbeil opened the scoring with a 33-yard run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.

The defense stopped the Wildcats and the Red Bay offense had no trouble putting together another scoring drive. This time it ended with Steven Wood carrying the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard run with 3:39 to play in the first quarter.

On their next possession the Tigers faced a fourth-and-1 situation at the Colbert Heights 20-yard line. Red Bay converted on a run and later added another Senkbeil touchdown run to cap off the drive.

The Wildcats, ranked eighth, scored on a 2-yard pass with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter to cut Red Bay’s advantage to 21-7.

Colbert Heights (2-1, 1-1) opened the second half with possession of the ball, but a bad snap led to a fumble and Red Bay’s Austin Belue recovered deep in Wildcat territory.

Wood scored on the next play on a 4-yard run, but Clay McNatt’s point after attempt sailed wide, leaving the Tigers with a 27-7 lead.

Colbert Heights was forced to punt on its next possession and the Wildcat rally began. The Colbert Heights defense forced a punt, but the snap was bad and the Wildcats took possession at the Red Bay 24-yard line. The Wildcats scored on that drive.

“I never thought they were out of the game,” Jeffreys said. On the next drive, Colbert Heights proved him right.

Red Bay fumbled on its next possession and Colbert Heights scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass to cut the Tigers lead to 27-21 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.

Then the Tigers decided to regain the momentum. Dmitri Humphrey returned the ensuing kickoff to the Colbert Heights 10-yard line and a horse-collar tackle penalty by the Wildcats at the end of the play put the Tiger offense in business at the Wildcat 5-yard line.

Unfortunately, a penalty on the Tigers moved the ball back to the 10-yard line, but Hunter Childers was able to scramble for the touchdown on the next play. Wood extended the lead with a successful run on the two-point conversion to put the Tigers up 35-21 with 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Wildcats wasted little time answering, driving down the field and scoring 39 second later to cut the Red Bay advantage to 35-28.

The Colbert Heights defense stopped the Tigers at the Wildcat 30-yard line by forcing a turnover on downs with 6:00 to play, but was unable to capitalize as Red Bays defense stiffened and gave up only eight yards and stopped the Wildcats short of a first down on a fourth-down play.

Colbert Heights wouldn’t quit though as the Wildcats recovered a Red Bay fumble near midfield. Once again the Tiger defense answered the call and stopped the Wildcats on a fourth-and-12 play.

Red Bay was then able to run out the clock and secure the victory.

“I told them at the end of the night we would either be tied for first or tied for third or fourth,” Jeffreys said.

With the win the Tigers are tied with Lamar County at the top of the region standings. Both teams are 2-0 in region play and are the only undefeated teams in the region.

Red Bay will host Lamar County next week.

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