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Straughn beats county rival

Straughn junior quarterback Josh Dewrell rushed for 62 yards on six carries and two touchdowns to help lead his team to a 34-14 regular-season-ending victory over Red Level on Thursday night in Straughn.

The win put Straughn at 5-0 in the second half of the season. Straughn has also gone undefeated at home each of the last two seasons.

Straughn coach Trent Taylor said the seventh victory Thursday night was significant for his team.

“We were sitting here 2-3 through five games and we told them, ‘This is where you’re at and the first half of the season is over,’” Taylor said. “Let’s see what we can do in the second half.’

“That’s kind of culminated the whole thing, to be undefeated in the second half,” he said. “Now, we’ve got to go back to work on Monday and get ready for the playoffs one week at a time.”

Throughout the night, Straughn’s offense ran a lot of misdirection plays to confuse Red Level’s defense.

“That’s kind of been us for the last four or five weeks,” Taylor said. “The option and misdirection — I guess that’s our (modus operandi). I’m proud of our kids.”

Dewrell scored his first touchdown of the night in the first quarter with 4:50 left, when he rushed for a 21-yard score to put his team ahead 13-0 at that point.

His second touchdown came at the start of the second quarter, from 13 yards out. The extra point was blocked by Red Level and that put the score at 19-6.

Three minutes into the first quarter, Straughn’s Eric Samuel rushed the ball in from the 2-yard line to give his team a six-point edge early in the game.

With Straughn up by 13 points, Red Level’s Desmond Jones scored his last touchdown at Red Level, going in from 31 yards out with 57.8 seconds left in the first quarter.

Jones rushed for 75 yards on four carries in the first half.

Straughn (7-3, 6-1 in Class 3A, Region 1) held Red Level to three-and-out on Red Level’s first possession in the second quarter.

Straughn answered on its next possession when Josh Dewrell connected with junior wide receiver Austin Pickrel with 4:20 left to make it 26-6.

On the opening possession for Red Level in the second half, Straughn senior defensive end Caleb Cochran intercepted a pass from Preston Ryce on fourth down to put his team at the Red Level 25-yard line.

Even though Straughn had possession of the ball early in the second half, Red Level forced a fumble from its own 1-yard line with 5:15 left in the third.

Red Level could not convert for another six points as Caleb Cochran sacked Ryce in the end zone to get a safety to put the score at 28-6.

Straughn’s last touchdown of the night came on a 1-yard rush from senior cornerback Shawn O’Neal with 3.3 seconds left in the third. The extra point was no good.

Red Level managed another eight points with 11:10 left in the fourth. Jonathan Neal ran for a 9-yard touchdown, and the Tigers added a two-point conversion.

Red Level coach Tony Ingram said he was proud of his players’ effort Thursday night.

“It was a tremendous effort,” Ingram said. “The guys played their hearts out. Things didn’t go our way, but I’m proud of the effort. We played a very well-coached team.

“I wanted to send them out better than this, but these seniors have been an essential part of this program,” he said. “If we can get this thing turned around, it’ll be because of the things they have done this year. I just can’t say enough about them.”

Neal was 3-for-6 for 81 yards in passing and had two carries for 10 yards and one touchdown in rushing.

Red Level ended its season with a 2-8 record.

Straughn’s Eric Samuel rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown; Kaleb Green rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries; Shawn O’Neal rushed for 18 yards on four carries and one touchdown; Dewrell was 2-for-2 for 24 passing yards and one touchdown; and Austin Pickrel had one reception for a touchdown.

Straughn will host Geneva next Friday in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.

Taylor said his team would be “ready” next week.

“These guys understand what they have to do (at practice),” Taylor said. “There is no doubt that we’ll have four good days next week — they’ll be ready to go.”

Kickoff at Straughn’s stadium is at 7 p.m.