Red Level nearly erases 20-point deficit but falls to Houston County, 40-35

Published 11:41 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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The Red Level Tigers played from behind against Houston County most of the night, but made a daring comeback that came up just short, falling 40-35.

The Tigers quickly fell behind when Houston County scored first on their first possession with a four-play drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass followed by a 2-point conversion.

Later in the half, Javen Poindexter would intercept a Houston County pass and run it into the end zone, but a holding call kept the points of the board. That was followed by a fumble by the Tigers giving possession back to Houston County. A series of bad snaps backed the Lions up, including one on fourth down that set Red Level up in scoring position at the Houston County 9-yard line. A few plays later, Poindexter took the ball in from five yards out for the score. A 2-point conversion tied the game at 8-8 with 1:09 to go in the first quarter.

Houston County jumped right back on top at the beginning of the second period with a 55-yard run to the end zone. A 2-point attempt was no good, making the score 14-8.

After a three-and-out for the Tigers, the Lions took three plays to add to their lead with a 24-yard touchdown run. This time, the 2-pointer was good to give Houston County a 22-8 edge, which would be the score going into the half.

A misplayed snap on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half would give the Lions excellent field position and they would capitalize on a 6-yard touchdown run. After a failed 2-point conversion, the Tigers were down 28-8 early in the third.

The Tigers began to claw their way back into the game, taking possession on the next kickoff at their own 40. On third-and-11, Koltin Barlow found Poindexter for the 11 yards and a first down. After a bad snap and a loss of two yards, the Tigers got a fresh set of downs after an unsportsman penalty against the Lions. The Lion defense stood firm there and forced a punt, but the ball was mishandled allowing Ben Carroll to fall on it for the Tigers. A few plays later, an interference call against Houston County moved the Tigers into red zone at the 14. A few plays later Poindexter took the ball in from 9-yards out. The 2-point conversion was no good, but Red Level had cut the deficit to 28-14 with 3:33 to go in the third.

Needing to get the ball back, the Tiger defense started to flex its muscle. Led by two tackles for losses by Jamari Brown in the series, Houston County would end up turning the ball over on downs and giving the Tigers excellent field position at the 25-yard line. After a four-yard gain by Micah Wright, Barlow once again looked to Poindexter who hauled in the catch for the touchdown. Devan Parker ran the ball in for a successful 2-point conversion, making the game close, 28-22 with only 4 seconds remaining in the third.

After a good return all the way to the Tiger 30-yard line, Houston County would go on to punch the ball into the end zone, adding to their lead which stood at 34-22 with just over 10 minutes to go.

With time now a big factor, the Tigers went to the air on their next possession. Barlow found Malique Copeland for a five-yard pick up on first down. Two plays later, the target was Poindexter for a big pickup of 27 yards to the 45-yard line, followed by a screen pass to the same target for a pick up of five. The Tigers faced a fourth-and-six when Barlow scrambled for eight yards and a fresh set of downs at the 15. The quarterback kept it again and went the distance for the score. Carroll’s point-after attempt bounced the wrong way off the upright, making the score 34-28 with 7:48 to go.

Both teams exchanged quick possessions before Houston County struck another blow, this time a 74-yard dash that put the Tigers down 40-28 with only 1:43 to go.

But, the Tigers weren’t ready to call it a night. After a kickoff return by Shambrian Mayes all the way to the Lion 31-yard line, Barlow immediately went to his favorite target, Poindexter, who out-jumped his defender to haul in the pass in the endzone. Carroll’s PAT was good, cutting the Lion lead to 40-35 with only 1:31 to go.

The Tiger defense held and Coach Kenny Skipper utilized his timeouts to give the team one more shot with 8.7 seconds remaining. The punt went into the arms of Poindexter who had a running start when catching it and proceeded down the sideline all the way to about the Lion 20-yard line before running out of room along the sideline with no time remaining on the clock.

The loss drops the Tigers to 1-2, both overall and in area play. They travel to McKenzie next week for another area game.