Soddy-Daisy running back C.J. Blue gave Red Bank the blues.
Blue, a diminutive back with the shiftiness and speed of a startled cat, rushed for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns Friday night, leading the Trojans to a 32-27 victory over their most heated rivals at Red Bank High.
Blue scored on a 23-yard run in the first quarter and caught a 5-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Brett Standifer that helped Soddy-Daisy build a 20-14 halftime lead.
“The coaches were just telling me to run the ball, don’t do anything but run the ball,” said Blue, who rushed 22 times and also caught three passes for 28 yards. “I felt pretty good. My linemen were giving me holes and if I see an opening, I’ll go.”
The Trojans (1-1) opened the season with a 44-7 thrashing at the hands of Baylor, but with Red Bank on the other side had no trouble putting the Red Raiders in the rear-view mirror and focusing on their most heated rival.
“This is fantastic,” Blue said of knocking off the Lions. “It feels so good I can’t really express what I’m thinking. This is my second game and it sure was better than the last one, I know that.”
With Blue bedeviling the Lions’ defense, Soddy-Daisy gained 201 yards on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per rush.
“We were waiting on (Blue) to break out,” Trojans coach Kevin Orr said. “We planned on running the ball a lot. We felt we could run on them. We were going to use two backs and get after it.
"C.J. had a lot of yards after first contact and that’s what a great back does. After first contact, how many yards does he get? I think he had a lot tonight.”
Red Bank (0-1) managed just 69 rushing yards on 26 tries, or 2.6 yards per carry.
With the Lions’ ground game stymied, quarterback Hagen Wilkey carried much of his team’s offensive load. Wilkey, a senior, completed 12-of-19 passes for 213 yards and was the Lions’ leading rusher with 43 yards on 13 carries.
On some of those runs, Wilkey was forced to scramble to make positive yardage.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in this area,” Orr said. “He’s such a tough runner. He makes your defense have to be sound because he does run so well. And he throws the ball extremely well. He’s a great player.”
Wilkey scored on runs of 5 and 2 yards. His 48-yard stop-and-go pass to Michael Robinson on the game’s first play set up Wilkey’s first touchdown run that capped a 56-yard, four-play drive.
“It wasn’t my best game and I can do better,” Wilkey said. “We came out and I think our heads were a little hot. We made mistakes on both sides of the ball. I think we kind of gave the game away. We’ll watch film and come out next week and fix our mistakes.”
That first drive looked easy, but everything else came much harder for the Lions the rest of the night.
Soddy-Daisy’s C.J. Brown also scored twice on a 7-yard run and capped the Trojans’ scoring by grabbing a 6-yard pass from Standifer with 6:32 left for what turned out to be the game-winner.
The Standifer-to-Brown pass capped a short 28-yard, seven-play drive that was set up when Blake Henry recovered a Red Bank fumble.
On third-and-five, Standifer threw an incomplete pass but the Lions were flagged for roughing-the-passer. That gave Soddy-Daisy a first down at the Red Bank 12 and four players later the Trojans scored. A two-point conversion pass failed and the Trojans had a shaky 32-27 lead.
On the Lions’ ensuing possession, Wilkey was unable to convert a fourth-and-12 and the ball went back to Soddy-Daisy.
The Trojans were forced to punt.
Red Bank was in business at its own 46.
Wilkey’s third-down pass was intercepted by Brown with 1:23 left in the game and the Trojans ran the clock out for the win, which kept an unusual streak going. These two teams have alternated wins for the past five years.
Red Bank coach E.K. Slaughter, who was a Lions assistant from 2005-07 and led the Trojans’ program in 2008, has seen this rivalry from both sides and knew Friday’s game would challenge both squads.
“It was a great game,” Slaughter said. “They answered the bell every time and we worked really hard to answer the bell. We made a couple of mistakes and in a tight rivalry like this when it comes down to the last play, they made one of those plays and we didn’t.
“Good for them. They had their guys prepared, had a good plan and executed it.”
After Wilkey’s run opened the scoring, the Trojans answered the Lions with a 79-yard, 11-play scoring drive capped by Blue’s 23-yard spurt.
Soddy-Daisy went up when the Trojans’ defense tackled the Red Bank punter in the end zone after a poor snap from center.
Trojans place-kicker Luke Underwood salvaged a 47-yard drive with a 15-yard field goal to get things started in the second quarter and extend the lead to 12-7.
But don’t blink.
Demetrius Williams ended a 45-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and the Lions had a 14-12 lead.
Standifer hit Blue in the left flat and the speedy back zipped into the end zone, the final play in a 47-yard, nine-play drive. A two-point pass from Standifer to Brown pushed Soddy-Daisy back into the lead at 20-14.
Red Bank took the second-half kickoff and drove 74 yards in 10 plays with Darrius Akridge’s 8-yard touchdown run and Christian Velazquez’s extra point gave the Lions a 21-20 lead.
The Trojans had another answer, though.
Soddy-Daisy went 77 yards in 10 plays and regained the lead at 26-21 when Brown found paydirt from 7 yards out.
The Lions roared back.
In a 65-yard drive, Wilkey completed four passes for 63 yards and scored from the 2 and Red Bank had a 27-26 advantage with 40.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Hagen played really well,” Slaughter said. “As the season goes along, he’ll get more comfortable with his reads and he’ll do nothing but get better. He’s going to have a great year.”
Khalik Hudson caught two passes in the drive, including 20-yarder that put the Lions at the Trojans’ 2, while Quan Springs and Chris Tucker each had one reception. Tucker finished with five catches for 67 yards.
“He’s a player,” Wilkey said of Tucker, a senior. “He’s going to make big plays throughout the season.”
However, Soddy-Daisy had something left.
Following a punt, the Trojans’ defense forced the Lions into a third-and-19 and then Henry came up big with his fumble recovery.
Seven plays later, Standifer found Brown from 6 yards out for the game-winning touchdown.
“The kids really wanted this one,” Orr said. “The coaches had nothing to do with this. Our kids just played their hearts out. I’m feeling amazing after this big victory. It makes me feel good about the kids and the program. These kids fought so hard.”
Soddy-Daisy 9 11 6 6 – 32
Red Bank 7 7 13 0 – 27
RB – Hagen Wilkey 5 run (Christian Velazquez kick), 8:57
SD – C.J. Blue 23 run (Luke Underwood kick), 3:39
SD – Safety, RB punter tackled in end zone, 2:37
SD – Luke Underwood FG 15, 9:59
RB – Demetrius Williams 1 run (Velazquez kick), 7:36
SD – Blue 5 pass from Brett Standifer (C.J. Brown pass from Standifer), 27.2
RB – Darrius Akridge 8 run (Velazquez kick), 8:21
SD – Brown 7 run (run failed), 2:3
RB – Wilkey 2 run (run failed), 40.9
SD – Brown 6 pass from Standifer (pass failed), 6:32
First Downs 18 12
Rushes-Yds. 41-201 26-69
Passing Yds. 104 213
Com.-Att.-Int. 10-22-0 12-19-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Punts.-Avg. 3-38 1-34
Penalties-Yds. 7-46 7-46
RUSHING — Soddy-Daisy: C.J. Blue 22-108, Caleb Jordan 6-62, Brett Standifer 12-24, C.J. Brown 1-7; Red Bank: Hagen Wilkey 13-43, Darrius Akridge 7-22, Demetrius Williams 5-5, Team 1-minus 1.
PASSING — Soddy-Daisy: Brett Standifer 10-22-0 104; Red Bank: Hagen Wilkey 12-19-1 213.
RECEIVING — Soddy-Daisy: Blue 3-28, Hayden Cox 2-27, Alex Roberts 2-26, Brown 3-23; Red Bank: Chris Tucker 5-67, Michael Robinson 2-53, Akridge 2-42, Khalik Hudson 2-33, Quan Springs 1-6.
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)