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Tigers top Wildcats

The Florala Wildcats opened the 2002 football season in the friendly home confines of Mathews Stadium Friday night, looking to break an extended winless streak and also hoping to give Doug Vickery a win in his debut as Florala's head coach.

Tim Grimes' and the visiting Red Level Tigers, however, had other ideas, as they took advantage of some big plays and critical mistakes by Vickery's Wildcats to earn a 28-0 victory.

"It was a sloppy game, and we are a young team," said Grimes. "We probably gave (Florala) the ball inside our 15-yard line 25 times but we didn't allow them to score, though. Red Level had some kids who can make some plays and this is not the same Florala team we have seen. Our kids played hard, but we're not in shape, and that's my fault."

"There is no doubt that we made too many mistakes," said Vickery. "We have such a young team and two-thirds of our team are

freshmen or sophomores. We had three freshmen starting on offense. I think we had a lot of opportunities, but Red Level has a good football team and Coach Grimes is a class act. We just have to learn from our mistakes and build on the positives. I take full responsibility for us not being where we need to be, but I think our kids won't quit."

It did not take long for Red Level to get on the scoreboard after beginning its initial possession of the game on the Tigers' 35-yard line, junior back Larry Hudson rambled for 10 yards and a first down. On the next play, senior Antonio Harris swept the left side for a 55-yard run to paydirt, and with only 39 seconds having elapsed in the contest, Red Level was up 6-0. The extra point was blocked by the Wildcats.

Late in the first quarter, Red Level began another drive led by the running of Hudson.

A 19-yard dash by Hudson moved the ball to the Wildcat 31 and a pass interference call on Florala would move the ball to the 15.

The drive briefly appeared to be halted by a Red Level fumble, but the fumble was waived off due to an inadvertent whistle, giving the Tigers new life.

One play later the Tigers took advantage, scoring on a 6-yard TD run by Hudson with 12 seconds remaining in the quarter. Hudson also scored on the two-point conversion, and after one period quarter Red Level was ahead 14-0.

As the first quarter ended Florala fumbled the ensuing kickoff giving the ball back to Red Level deep in Florala territory at the Wildcat 21.

A 19-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Russell Rigdon moved the ball to the 2-yard line, and on the first play of the second quarter, Rigdon scored on a two-yard run. The extra point went wide but the Tigers had built their lead to 20-0. The score remained 20-0 at the

intermission.

Late in the third quarter, another Florala miscue set up Red Level's final score of the game. A Wildcat fumble set Red Level up in good shape at the Florala eight-yard line.

Two plays after the bobble, Rigdon connected with Harris on a scoring pass at the 5:42 mark.

Harris scored on the two-point play for a 28-0 lead.

Florala had several chances to put points on the board as the Wildcats were able to get deep into Red Level territory, but turnovers or penalties ultimately stymied those scoring opportunities.

Red Level looks to improve to 2-0 next Friday as the Tigers will host New Brockton while the Wildcats hope to rebound as they host Ariton in a key region game.