No offensive touchdown was needed as the Red Bank Lions survived a nail biter against the Rhea County Golden Eagles, 7-3, to remain undefeated.
The outcome looked bleak for the Lions, though, deep in the fourth quarter.
Rhea County’s junior tailback Ethan Davis hammered away at the Red Bank defensive line. Approaching 30 carries, Davis was picking up five yards a carry on as Rhea County entered the red zone for the first time with three minutes remaining in the ball game.
Behind the tough running of Davis, the Eagles would work their way inside the 10-yard line as time ticked down. It was clear what Rhea County’s goal was—feed Davis, leave as little time left, and escape.
That plan seemed to go accordingly, as the Eagles had the ball at fourth and one from the one-yard line. 2:18 was all that was left in the game, and Rhea County elected to take a field goal. The confidence on the Rhea Co. defensive side (who only allowed four first downs to that point) was immense.
Everything went as planned. The snap was handled, and the hold was clean. Cole Ruehling, the Eagles’ kicker, struck the ball and split the uprights. Rhea County had the first lead of the game, 3-0.
Someone on the Red Bank sideline must have recalled the Music City Miracle that the Tennessee Titans did against the Buffalo Bills in 2000. The following kickoff would show that.
The Lions would receive the kick with their heels at the goal line. After taking a few steps forward, the Lions enacted on the lateral play. As the ball was lateraled across from sideline to sideline, the Red Bank blockers formed an iron curtain through the center of the field. For Rhea County, the Eagles over pursued the initial receiver and left the right side of the field wide open.
Red Bank’s Daune Morris caught the lateral and began his trek up the field. The Lions did an excellent job at avoiding any crack-back blocks (which would be a penalty) and kept the blocking clean. Morris would juke to the right, avoid two Rhea County defenders, and cross through the center of the field. No one was in front of him, and a convoy of Lions surrounded him.
Morris and the Red Bank special team's unit all entered the end zone for the score, putting them up, 7-3, with two minutes remaining.
It was Rhea County’s time to respond. This was the first time the Eagles faced a deficit all night, and with little time remaining they could no longer rely on Davis. Up to that point, the Eagles have only thrown the ball 11 times. Compare that to 48 rushing attempts.
That would prove to be a problem.
Following a first down thanks to a roughing the passer penalty, the Eagles were in a passing situation yet again. Rearing back to throw, Davis was running up the sideline. Behind him, Jaden Baccus lurked and lured in the throw. Baccus would react quickly, leap, and snag the interception to seal the win for the Lions.
A special shoutout to Jaden Baccus, who played wide receiver, punter, kicker, and defensive back for the night. Baccus, earlier in the first half, scrambled to avoid a blocked punt and picked up a first down for the Lions. He also was able to scramble to avoid another block and punt the ball on the run to shift the field positioning. If Rhea County blocked the kick, they would have been within the 20-yard line. Baccus also had two interceptions for the night including the game-sealing pick. He also tacked on offensive yards with three receptions. The definition of an iron-man athlete.
It was not pretty but a win is a win, especially when you are undefeated. That is the case for Red Bank (5-0), as the leaders of region 4A district continue to roll. Next up, the Lions will host the Hixson Wildcats (4-2) for a divisional matchup.
Rhea County suffers another heartbreak and falls to 1-4 on the season. That does not write off the Eagles, though, as they sit in third place within their division (5A region 4). However, they will need to circle the wagon in their next matchup as they host divisional foe Walker Valley (2-3).
RHEA CO. 0 0 0 3 – 3
RED BANK 0 0 0 7 – 7
RC – Cole Reuhling 14-yard field goal (2:18, 4th)
RB – Daune Morris 99-yard kickoff return (Jaden Baccus kick) (2:00, 4th)
RC STATS RB
13 First Downs 5
48-185 Rushes/Yards 18-73
62 Passing Yards 33
247 Total Yards 106
13-7-2 Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 17-7-1
7-55 Penalties/Yards 7-75
4-37.0 Punts-Avg. 6-35.33
0-0 Fumbles-Lost 0-0
Notable Individual Stats
Rushing: Ethan Davis 29-153, Hunter Crowe 7-21 (RC); Daune Morris 7-60, Jaden Baccus 1-21 (RB).
Passing: Kaleb Martin 6-58 (RC); Jake Brune 7-33 (RB).
Receiving: Drew Massingill 3-22, Caleb Odell 1-25 (RC); Jaden Baccus 3-24 (RB).
Records: Rhea County (1-4, 1-1 5A Region 4); Red Bank (5-0, 2-0 4A Region 3).