Red Bay takes lead in region race

RED BAY — The stakes were high in Friday night’s game between Red Bay and Lamar County with the winner clearly in control for the Class 2A, Region 8 title.

Both teams entered the contest 3-0 overall and 2-0 in region play and it looked as though the visiting Bulldogs would over power Red Bay early in the first. Then the Tigers’ defense took over and Red Bay cruised to a 35-14 victory.

“It doesn’t mean we will win (the region), but we are in the driver’s seat, which is where you want to be,” said Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys. “We have some tough region games coming up.”

The Tigers offense sputtered on its opening drive and had to punt. Lamar County then drove 85 yards for touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Red Bay wasted little time answering. The Tigers drove 68 yards and tied the game on a 45-yard pass from Hunter Childers to Austin Humphries with 19.7 seconds remaining in the quarter.

The Red Bay defense then forced a punt and the offense capitalized when Steven Wood capped off a 71-yard drive with a 4-yard run to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead.

The Bulldogs appeared ready to tie the game after a 52-yard kickoff return and a long pass set Lamar County up with a first-and-goal situation at the Red Bay 6-yard line. The Tiger defense stopped two plays then intercepted a pass on third down to end the threat.

Moments later Childers broke around the left end and raced 92-yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 21-7 advantage with 20 seconds remaining in the half.

“We were almost resigned to taking a knee there, but we called a timeout and drew up a play,” Jeffreys said. “It was an option play. They dove for him and he took off. He was never going to pitch it.”

The Red Bay defense continued to dominate in the second half, forcing a punt on the opening drive.

Unfortunately, the defense had to go back on the field when the punt return team fumbled the ball and Lamar County recovered. The defenders did not seem phased and forced another punt.

The Tiger offense once again used some long runs to move down the field. Matt Belue ripped off a run of more than 40 yards to get into Lamar County territory and Matt Senkbeil finished the drive with a 40-yard dash to the end zone.

Lamar County would not give up and drove deep, but the Red Bay defense once again turned the Bulldogs away with no points. The Tigers stopped Lamar County on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

“Our goal was not to let them score,” said Austin Belue, who led the Tigers with seven tackles.

A pair of short runs gave the Tigers some breathing room then Childers broke free for another long run — this time for 96 yards and another touchdown.

“They lined up and blitzed the inside linebackers,” said Childers. “I don’t think they even touched me.”

Lamar County added a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the game, but by then the damage was done.

Childers finished the night with 198 rushing yards on nine carries and completed 2-of-4 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers rushed for 383 yards during the game. Matt Belue carried 12 times for 90 yards while Senkbeil had four rushed for 56 yards.

“The line is doing a great job,” Childers said. “The running backs can’t do anything without the line blocking. They are the unsung heroes.”

Red Bay will host Belmont in a non-region game next week. The Tigers will return to region play Sept. 30 when they travel to Hatton.

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