Harris, Tigers deep fry Gamecocks

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 9, 2002

Shortly before Friday night's matchup in Red Level between Tim Grimes' host Tigers and the New Brockton Gamecocks, it was announced that there was a tornado watch for parts of Covington County.

And the New Brockton defense must feel like it was actually hit by a tornado in the form of 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior Tiger fullback Antonio "A.J." Harris.

Harris galloped and stormed his way to a school-record 387 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries, leading the Tigers to a wild 47-28 victory over the visiting Gamecocks. Red Level improved to 2-0 on the young season.

After the game, Harris was quick to recognize his supporting cast for his huge night.

"It feels good (to rush for the huge yardage), but the line was blocking for me the whole night," said Harris. "I have to give credit to the offensive line and the coaches."

Grimes said he was happy with the overall win, and of course the big night by his gifted fullback.

"We came out with some intensity tonight and we played hard," said Grimes. "We still made way too many mistakes but we played a very good football team, and they scored some points on us when we started putting in some younger guys. The kids played for each other tonight. (Harris) had some great blocking but he ran with some authority tonight. He had two fumbles too and we can't have that, but he is just what we thought he was and he's probably a better linebacker than he is a fullback."

It did not take long for Red Level to get things going after New Brockton was forced to punt on its initial possession, the Tigers set up shop at the Red Level 32.

Three plays into the series, Harris took a pitch and rambled 61 yards for a touchdown at the 8:08 mark of the quarter to put the Tigers on top, and added the extra point for good measure to make the score 7-0.

The Tigers attempted an onside kick and were able to recover, putting Red Level back in business at the Gamecock 39.

A 14-yard pass from Russell Rigdon to Tanner Carroll and a 15-yard scamper by Harris moved the ball to the Gamecock 12, and from there Harris scored on a run at the 4:39 mark. The extra point was no good, but Red Level was still up 13-0.

New Brockton once again punted on its next possession, with Red Level taking over the ball at the Tiger 24.

A 22-yard run on a reverse by Princeton Ryce moved the ball to the 46, and then Rigdon connected with Carroll on a 11-yard pass to set the ball at the 43 of the Gamecocks.

Three plays into the second quarter, Larry Hudson finished up this Tiger drive on a 22-yard jaunt at the 10:34 mark. Rigdon connected with Carroll on the two-point play and Red Level appeared to be in cruise control, up 21-0.

New Brockton finally got on the scoreboard itself on its ensuing series, which began at the Gamecock 40.

Two plays into this series, Tyler Simmons scored on a 57-yard run at the 9:46 mark. Ray Magwood scored on a two-point conversion, cutting the Tiger lead to 21-8.

After this, Red Level and New Brockton traded punts before the Tigers would take possession of the ball late in the first half with a series beginning on the Tiger 19.

Following a penalty, Harris rumbled 23 yards to move the ball to the Tiger 37.

From there Harris finished off the drive in style, churning down the left sideline 63 yards for a score at the 2:24 mark. At halftime the score was 27-8, with Harris compiling 196 yards and three scores in the first 24 minutes.

The Tigers took the ball first to begin the second half, starting its initial series of the half at the Tiger 35.

Led by runs of 8, 4 and 13 yards by Harris, the Tigers quickly moved the ball to the New Brockton 40.

Later in the drive, a 9-yard Harris run moved the ball to the 19, and from here Rigdon connected with Chaz Malloy on a scoring toss at the 7:13 mark to build the Red Level lead to 33-8.

New Brockton punted on its next possession, but was able to get the ball back on the Red Level 28 following a Tiger fumble.

New Brockton capitalized on the miscue, with Joe Sawyer connecting with Travis Slawson on a 9-yard TD pass with 43 seconds remaining in the third. Simmons scored on the two-point play to cut the lead to 33-16.

The Gamecocks attempted an onside kick, but Red Level was able to pounce on the ball at the Tiger 49.

Runs of 20 and 11 yards by Harris quickly advanced the Tigers to the Gamecock 20, with the Tigers back in business as the third period expired.

On the first play of the final quarter, Harris struck paydirt once again, scoring on a 20-yard run at the 11:50 mark. Rigdon connected with Carroll again for the two points and the lead had been built to 41-16.

New Brockton began its next series on the Gamecock 36 and seven plays into the series Sawyer again connected with Slawson, this time on a 12-yard scoring toss at the 7:58 mark to make the score 41-22 as the two-point play failed.

Red Level fumbled on the first play of its ensuing series and New Brockton had new life with the ball on the Tiger 44.

New Brockton moved the ball all the way to the Red Level 12 before being held on downs by the Red Level defense.

Red Level took over the ball at the 11 and three plays later Harris sped 86 yards up the right sideline for his fifth TD of the game and the Tigers pushed the lead back to 47-22.

New Brockton, however, refused to throw in the towel as the Gamecocks began its next series on their 46.

Two plays into the series Simmons scored on a 38-yard run at the 1:25 mark to make the score 47-28.

This is as close as the gritty Gamecocks could get, though, as the mammoth effort by Harris was too much for the visitors to overcome.

The Tigers look to remain perfect next Friday night as they host Wicksburg at Crystal Springs Park. Gametime is set for 7:30 p.m.