Red Level perfect after 26-14 win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2002

Tim Grimes' Red Level Tigers, seeking to improve to 3-0 on the season, found themselves on the ropes in the fourth quarter against visiting Wicksburg Friday night, leading by a

precarious score of 20-14.

The Tigers, however, were eventually able to put the gritty Warriors away 26-14 with its powerful running game, led by senior fullback Antonio "A.J." Harris

and junior tailback Larry Hudson.

Harris, coming off a school-record game last Friday with 387 rushing yards and five touchdowns, led the Tiger effort once again with 155 yards and a pair of scores on 29 carries.

Hudson added 83 yards on eight carries including one rushing touchdown and a touchdown reception as well.

"(Wicksburg) had a very good team and any team that can throw and catch like they can usually gives us some problems," said Grimes. "We held down (Warrior running back Jason Dawkins) pretty good.

Our running game won the game for us no doubt.

Our special teams are still our Achilles heel and we have to get that cleared up as (upcoming Homecoming opponent) Samson is another good team."

Defenses prevailed in the early part of the game as neither squad was able to put together a sustained scoring march, but late in the first quarter, behind the running of Harris, Red Level began to get its offense into gear beginning a series from its own 17-yard-line.

Four consecutive running plays by Harris netted 42 yards and Red Level advanced to the Wicksburg 41.

Later in the drive, an 18-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Russell Rigdon moved the ball to the 27.

On the fourth play of the second quarter, Rigdon plunged one yard for the touchdown at the 10:04 mark and Red Level had finally broken the scoreless duel, moving ahead 6-0.

Wicksburg was forced to punt on its ensuing series, but Red Level gave the ball right back to the Warriors on a fumble, setting Wicksburg up at midfield.

Some 10 plays later, Dawkins scored on a five-yard run at the 2:26 mark of the first half, and the successful extra point put Wicksburg on top 7-6.

Red Level began its next series at the Tiger 32, and on the third play of the series, Rigdon connected with Hudson on a screen pass which went 62 yards for paydirt with only 25 seconds remaining before intermission.

Harris scored on the two-point play and at the half, Red Level had moved ahead once again at 14-7.

Following a Wicksburg punt in the third period, Red Level set up shop at the Tiger 24, and led once again by the running of Harris and Hudson, the Tigers set forth on a 14-play march. Harris ended the march with 20 seconds remaining in the third on a five-yard run to build the lead to 20-7.

In the final period, after the Tigers failed to get off a punt attempt, Wicksburg was back in good shape, with the ball at the Tiger 11.

It took only one play for the Warriors to capitalize as Matt Cox connected with Joe Eberhard on an 11-yard TD pass at the 7:42 mark of the fourth quarter The extra point was true and Wicksburg was still very much in the game, down only 20-14.

Red Level, however, went back to its bread and butter on the ensuing Tiger series which began at the Tiger 36.

Runs of five and nine yards by Harris and a 12-yard gain on a reverse by Randy Howard moved the ball to the Warrior 37.

Hudson capped a 64-yard march by the Tigers at the 1:58 mark as he scooted basically untouched

for a 14-yard scoring jaunt to put the final nail in the coffin of the Warriors.

Wicksburg's last hopes were dashed by a interception by Rigdon and the Tigers were able to simply kneel on the ball to run out the clock.

Homecoming comes to Crystal Springs Park next Friday night as the Tigers host Samson in a game scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.