Red Bank’s early lead and stellar defensive play led them to a key Region 3-A win over East Hamilton, 21-20, Friday night. The two squads squared off in a pivotal region match that would provide the winner a commanding grip on first place.
A late scare from the Hurricanes made for an interesting second half. However, a late defensive stand by the Lions with 1:30 remaining sealed the win.
The Lions received the first half kickoff and utilized their quick tempo to march down the field.
Red Bank’s quarterback Joseph Blackmon evaded a sack and scrambled 20 yards for a touchdown. The scramble gave the Lions an early 7-0 lead with 8:22 left 22222in the first quarter.
After a three and out on the Hurricane’s opening drive, Red Bank’s momentum carried over to their second drive. Through the passing and ground game the Lions moved the ball easily.
After multiple first downs, Blackmon would read the defense on an option play and stroll into the end zone. Red Bank kicker Jake Wright would split the uprights to extend the lead to 14.
The potent East Hamilton offense continued to sputter as a turnover handed the ball right back to the Lions.
With the opportunity to go up by three scores, Red Bank pushed the ball aggressively. As they neared the end zone, yellow laundry rained down from above. Multiple holding penalties, and a missed field goal, crushed a promising drive, leaving the score at 14-0.
The Lion’s defense wrecked any chance of a momentum swing as Red Bank allowed zero positive yardage and forced a punt.
Back on offense, Red Bank slowly moved the ball into East Hamilton territory. Once again, penalties overwhelmed any production. In a desperation heave to get a first down, Blackmon’s pass was intercepted.
With new life found, East Hamilton’s ground game started to gash the Red Bank defense. First down after first down, the Hurricanes steadily progressed down the field. Once they were inside the 10-yard line, East Hamilton running back Juan Bullard scored off a four yard rush. The lead was trimmed to eight, 14-6.
In the third quarter, the Lions would strike with a 23 yard pass from Blackmon to Tyler Wright. The play call made it easy for the quarterback. Wrighthad about 10 yards of grass around him, without a defender near him, for an easy pitch and catch. Once the PAT was through, the score was 21-6.
Adjustments were made by the Hurricanes as they doubled the amount of first downs from the first half. Answering the Red Bank touchdown, East Hamilton would score from three yards out on Bullard’s second score of the night.
In the fourth quarter, a defensive stop by East Hamilton forced Red Bank to punt for the first time. Playing off of their halftime adjustments, Hurricane quarterback Lake Clark would lob a pass to wide receiver Kaunyae Burgans for a 45 yard touchdown. The pass was like a drop in a bucket for Clark, perfectly placed over the shoulder pass, leading his receiver down the sideline.
The Lions would fail to answer, but they were successful in draining four minutes off the clock. A risky fourth down attempt failed and the defense trotted onto the field for one more stop.
On first down, Kywonn Cooper would tackle the East Hamilton running back behind the line of scrimmage. On second down, a pack of Lions swarmed the ball carrier to force third and long.
Two incompletions later and it was a turnover on downs. Instead of three and out, it was four and out on the final Hurricane drive.
Blackmon would take three consecutive kneel downs and let time expire.
Following the game, Red Bank Head Coach Chris Brown celebrated with his team and family.
“We could player better and we could play cleaner,” said Brown. “But in the end, I don’t think we could play any harder, and that is what we pride ourselves on.”
Hugging his family and other coaches, Brown could not be happier for his team.
“It is a great signature win for Red Bank High School and its traditions, and it is a great win for our community who showed out like never before,” Brown said as he panned over the bleachers. “And it is a great win for a gritty group of high school teenagers who sacrifice more than what people know.”
With the win, the Lions secure first place in TSSAA’s 4A Region 3, giving them the tiebreaker over East Hamilton.
Red Bank will host Sequoyah for a non-regional match next Friday, October 29. East Hamilton will face off against regional opponent Hixson to close their regular season.
EAST HAMILTON 0 6 6 8 – 20
RED BANK 14 0 7 0 – 21
RB – Joseph Blackmon 20 run (Jake Wright kick) (8:22, 1st)
RB – Joseph Blackmon 9 run (Jake Wright kick) (5:08, 1st)
EH – Juan Bullard 4 run (PAT Failed) (11:20, 2nd)
RB – Joseph Blackmon 23 pass to Tyler Wright (Jake Wright kick) (7:29, 3rd)
EH – Joseph Bullard 3 run (Two point conversion failed) (4:42, 3rd)
EH – Lake Clark 45 pass to Kaunyae Burgans (Two point conversion failed) (7:24, 4th)
EH STATS RB
15 1st Downs 24
165 Rush 223
108 Pass 137
273 Total 360
80 Penalties 75
1 Turnovers 2
Notable Individual Stats
Rushing: Ad Crutcher 20-116 (RB), Joseph Blackmon 11-66-2 (RG); Juan Bullard 27-112-2 (LA).
Passing: Joseph Blackmon 10-17, 1 touchdown, 139 yards, 2 interceptions (RB); Lake Clark 7-17, 1 interception, 1 touchdown, 108 yards (EH).
Receiving: Jaden Baccus 2-50 (RG), Tyler Wright 4-51, 1 touchdown (RG); Kaunye Burgans 3-63-1 touchdown (EH), Jeremiah Flemmons 2-25 (EH).
Records: East Hamilton (6-2, 2-1 4A, Region 3); Red Bank (6-3, 4-1 4A, Region 3).