Red Bank won 31-14 in its District 6-AA high school football game at East Ridge, and the Lions' host couldn't have been much more gracious.
The gift giving began when the Pioneers muffed the opening kickoff, putting the Lions in business at the 17, and continued on the form of penalties and turnovers throughout.
Red Bank (2-0, 1-0) turned the early miscue into a field goal and drove for a touchdown on its next possession. Josey Janow had the first fumble recovery and Deres Benn and James Lewis also ended up making recoveries.
Kameno Watson had an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter after East Ridge (1-2, 0-1) had cut the deficit to 10-7. Niquia McDuffie ran 3 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and hooked up with Benn on a 54-yard bomb with 10:49 to play for the final score.
"I thought the defense gave us opportunities to make some of those big plays, although we executed a little less this week than we did last week," Red Bank coach Tim Daniels said. "We put a lot of pressure on them all night, but that worked both ways. We weren't able to run the rock, and we wanted to run the rock."
McDuffie ended up as the Lions' leading rusher on the night with 37 yards on eight carries. Hagan Wilkey started at quarterback for Red Bank, but Daniels made the switch and put McDuffie in beginning with the final series of the first half.
"We didn't think we were moving it like we wanted to," Daniels said. "We went with the guy who's a little more agile. We moved our other quarterback to tight end because we want our best athletes on the field. They both can run our offense. They're both great players."
East Ridge coach Mike Martin was frustrated throughout the game and near furious afterward. He felt like some of his players quit on their teammates, and he was upset with the officiating as much for non-calls against the opposition as the 14 calls against his team.
The Pioneers were flagged eight times for 49 yards -- five of them encroachment penalites -- before the Lions were called for their first. East Ridge ended up with 118 penalty yards. Red Bank had six penalties for 39 yards.
"We were absolutely terrible," Martin said. "This was an embarrassment to East Ridge football. A big game like this and we don't have enough people to line up and run an offense or a defense. We've got people over there on the sideline laying on the ground. We're not tough enough."
East Ridge's leader in yards from scrimmage was Emmanuel Harris with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Benn had five receptions for 98 yards for the Lions.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.