Red Bay stuns West Morgan 31-28
Kim West, Franklin County Times
RED BAY – Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys described Friday night's 31-28 comeback win over West Morgan as one of a kind.
Red Bay (4-0, 3-0) scored 21 points with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to stun West Morgan (1-3, 1-2) and preserve its unbeaten record.
"I was not surprised that West Morgan gave us a good game – I tried to warn everyone," Jeffrey said. "They had a great game plan and they did a good job against us. They played really hard, and my hat goes off to them."
Facing third-and-goal with just eight seconds and no time-outs remaining, senior Anthony Horton followed his surging offensive line into the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback keeper as time expired to send the revitalized crowd at Fred Bostick Jr. Memorial Stadium into a frenzy.
On the previous play, senior running back Josh Senkbeil appeared to touch the left pylon of the end zone after a 2-yard scamper around left end, but officials spotted the ball a few inches shy of the end zone.
"This was the greatest win in my career," said Jeffreys who has led the Tigers to two Class 2A championship games in 11 seasons. "I've never seen a team come back that far down with so little time left … I can't say enough about (the leadership) from our juniors and seniors tonight."
After a sloppy third quarter by both teams, Red Bay entered the final quarter down 14-7 until Makepeace drilled a 31-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining to narrow the gap to 14-10.
But Rebels quarterback Josh McAbee answered two plays later with a 66-yard burst up the middle. Jeremy Spooner's PAT put West Morgan ahead 21-10 with 6:22 left.
Terrence Carter intercepted Horton for the second time just two plays into Red Bay's next possession, and West Morgan recovered its own fumble in the end zone to go ahead 28-10 with 4:49 left.
But Senkbeil jump-started the Tigers with an 85-yard kickoff return. Senkbeil started towards the middle, angled to the left sideline and outran several West Morgan defenders to the end zone. Red Bay cut the Rebels' lead to 28-18 after Horton found senior receiver Pablo Makepeace for the two-point conversion with 4:34 left.
Makepeace attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by the Rebels' Seth Wallace. But the Red Bay defense forced a three-and-out and Red Bay started driving from its own 26-yard line with just 2:11 on the clock.
The Tigers drove nine plays in 1:23 and Makepeace scored from nine yards out and added the PAT to make the score 28-25 with 48 seconds left.
Then Makepeace attempted another onside kick, and managed to beat a West Morgan player to his own kick 15 yards downfield.
"We drew that last play in the dirt. The first onside kick wasn't far enough, but we noticed no one was covering the kicker's side. So on the second kick Pablo had a great kick and then he outran the West Morgan player to the ball," said Jeffreys.
Red Bay drove 20 yards in five plays – Horton completed passes to Makepeace and Cody Armstrong and Makepeace – and then Horton bulled in for the game-winning score after Senkbeil's 2-yard run.
In the first half, West Morgan scored on completions of 44 yards to Michael Clem and 17 yards to Quinton Davis. Red Bay's only score came in the first quarter when Horton found junior tight end Caleb Collins for a 5-yard touchdown.
"We have got to sustain momentum from the start of a game because anybody can beat you in this region. I was disappointed with the way we started the first half, but we were only down 14-7 at halftime. We just need to come out of the gate quicker," Jeffreys said. "But we had a lot of players step up tonight. (Anthony Horton) had some good passes and Josh had a phenomenal kickoff return. And I thought we managed the clock well."
Red Bay plays Hackleburg next Friday at 7 p.m.