Tigers remain undefeated

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2002

Perhaps it was the distraction of Homecoming that led to a sluggish start for Tim Grimes' Red Level Tigers as they matched up against the visiting Samson Tigers Friday night at Crystal Springs Park.

But a stifling defense and two-headed rushing machine of fullback Antonio "A.J." Harris and tailback Larry Hudson helped the Tigers improve to 4-0 as they dispatched the visiting Tigers 21-7.

The Tiger defense kept the Samson offense at bay the whole night, other than a meaningless late Samson touchdown pass while Harris and Hudson combined for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Harris had 164 yards on 19 carries and a pair of scores while Hudson added 73 yards on 6 carries.

"Samson was ready to play tonight, and we were unfocused," said Grimes. "We came out in the second half and played much better. (Defensive coach) Ken Valerie really had our defense ready to play and we called good offensive plays, but shot ourselves in the foot with penalties. It is nice to win on Homecoming and this is the first time in a long time that Red Level has been 4-0."

After Samson went three plays and out on the first offensive possession of the game, Red Level took over on the RL 13-yard-line.

Four plays into the opening Red Level series, Harris took a pitch and led by good blocking from the Tiger offensive line, sped around the left end at the 7:11 mark of the first quarter for a 75-yard touchdown run. Harris added the extra point and Red Level was up quickly 7-0.

This was the only scoring of the first quarter, but as the opening period ended, Red Level was back in business, with the ball deep in their opponent's territory, at the Samson 18.

The march ultimately ended, however, with Samson intercepting a Red Level pass.

At halftime, Red Level clung to a precarious 7-0 lead although the Tigers had success running the ball throughout the first half, and had basically shut down the Samson offense completely.

Midway through the third quarter, following a Samson fumble, Red Level was able to set up shop at the Samson 18.

On the very next play, Red Level capitalized on the Samson miscue, with Harris scoring on an 18-yard rumble, breaking four or five tackles in the process, at the 6:30 mark. Jermaine Jackson scored the two-point conversion and Red Level had increased its lead to 15-0. This was the score at the end of three quarters complete.

Samson was forced to boot the ball away on its next possession, and Red Level took over the ball at its own 20.

A 36-yard run by Hudson moved the ball to the Samson 38, and then later a 30-yard run by quarterback Russell Rigdon moved the ball to the visitor's one as the third quarter expired.

On the first play of the final period, Harris scored on a one-yard run to increase the lead to 21-0.

After this score, it was just a matter of Red Level using its running game to keep the clock churning, while the first-team Tiger defense continued to punish the Samson offense.

Samson registered its first and only points of the night with 20 seconds remaining in the contest, via a 27-yard TD pass against several of the Red Level defensive reserves.

The Tigers seek to remain perfect Friday night as they travel to Pleasant Home to battle Anthony Clark's homestanding Eagles. The game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.