Straughn outscores Red Level

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

Billed as a battle for the ages, only one thing was certain before the first play was ever made - the Tigers would win.

The only question was, would it be the Red Level Tigers or the Straughn Tigers. In the end, the Straughn Tigers came out victorious, 33-14 in what was probably the hardest fought game all season for both squads.

Both teams came out blazing in the first quarter, as the Straughn Tigers roared down the field with a 45-yard pass from quarterback Justin Bracewell to Jamie Straughn on the first play of the game. However, the Red Level defense held strong, gaining control of the ball on downs.

When the Red Level offense took the field for their first play, it appeared a game of one-ups was underway. Red Level's Russell Rigdon launched a pass into the air which found its way to Dusty Lee for a 51-yard pick-up and a first down.

Larry Hudson and Evan Kervin both picked up additional first downs for the RLS Tigers, before Kervin found his way into the end zone with a 10-yard run with 7:40 left in the first quarter. Hudson split the uprights for the point after, giving Red Level a 7-0 lead.

Straughn would have none of that, and charged down the field on the ensuing kick off when Al Freeney returned the ball all the way to his own 46-yard line. Michael Hobbs then found his way to a pair of first downs before rushing his way into the end zone. Garrett Windham booted the point leveling the score at 7-7.

Both teams swapped the ball as the quarter rolled to a close.

Straughn retained possession of the ball at the beginning of the second quarter, when Hobbs again found the end zone and Windham split the uprights, giving the Straughn Tigers a 14-7 lead.

Red Level came back on their next possession, driving the ball from their own 20-yard line and into the end zone on a series of plays that saw the first penalty of the game.

The Straughn Tigers were called for pass interference, giving Red Level the momentum to find the end zone when Jermaine Jackson caught a nine-yard pass from Rigdon. Jackson then skimmed the uprights evening the score at 14-14.

The next set of downs proved to be the most exciting as Straughn drove down the field, knocking on the goal line.

On a fourth-and-one situation, Red Level thought they held Straughn, but a spot of the ball and measurement instead gave Straughn the first down. As time wound down, Windham kicked a field goal, giving Straughn a 17-14 lead at the half.

In the second half, it was all Straughn Tigers as Hobbs rushed for another touchdown, with Windham booting another point after, giving the Tigers from Straughn a 24-14 lead with 8:43 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Straughn again charged down the field only to be stopped by the Red Level defense on the two-yard line.

Red Level took over on downs, but the Straughn defense snagged a safety and a 26-14 lead with 9:51 left in the fourth.

Straughn wasn't finished, and with six minutes left in the game, scored again when Hobbs ran his way into the end zone and Windham split the uprights giving the Straughn Tigers their 33-14 victory.

After the game, the two teams met in the center of the field, weary from combat, but brothers in sport.

"This was a hard fought game," said RLS Head Coach Tim Grimes. "It's the same old feeling when you loose. We played hard, and we'll get past this. Now, we're just going to look to Highland Home and the first round of the playoffs."

For Straughn, Head Coach Trent Taylor got his 100th win and a date with the Tarrant Wildcats next Friday night.

"Both teams played really hard," Taylor said. "Red Level really took it to us

in the first half. I knew though, if we could stop their run, we could get the win."

As for playing in Tarrant - nearly 3 1/2 hours away and northeast of Birmingham - Taylor would only say, "Bring on the best first. I feel really good about our chances with this group of kids."

And as for his 100th victory, "I owe it to the players."