First wins in a new coaching era are always memorable, but the Red Bank football team delivered a heart-stopping, unforgettable victory in Friday's debut game for Lions coach Chad Grabowski.
Going on the road against perennial Class 2A power Boyd-Buchanan, the Lions withstood five shots into the end zone in the final 14.5 seconds to outlast the Buccaneers, 20-16.
A pass-interference call in the zone as time expired placed the ball on the Lions' 1-yard line, and the Bucs had one final opportunity at a win. But Red Bank's stout front line stuffed them at the doorstep and delivered the first win for Grabowski, who came to Red Bank after a successful run in the Orlando, Fla., area.
"It was a great win, but I hope they are not all like this one," Grabowski said. "I was really proud of the way our guys fought back during the game, and we have a strong defensive front line. They really stepped up when we needed them."
Not only did the Lions defense respond, but the special teams and offense countered with big plays after the Bucs repeatedly worked to grab the momentum. Having run just two offensive plays in the first quarter and trailing the Bucs by three following a 27-yard Will Greer field goal, Lions kick returner Malik Davis zipped down the right sideline for an 81-yard touchdown.
Following a 13-yard Cooper Hodge pass to Damaris Macon that gave the Bucs a 16-13 edge with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Lions lightning struck again. On the ensuing drive, Demarcus Rivers picked up 69 of his game-high 153 yards to put Red Bank on the Bucs' 11. Ben Brown scored from 2 yards out with 10:59 left.
The Bucs, who were led by Hodge's 125 yards passing and 102 yards rushing, kept creating opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter. However, the Lions' strong defensive front, along with great safety and linebacker play and some untimely penalties, kept the Bucs from denting the end zone in the final minutes of the game.
"Our kids played hard against a much larger school," Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said. "We had some opportunities, but we made too many mental mistakes and penalties. We can learn a lot from tonight, and we'll be ready for next week."
"We had really been working with our kids about not getting down when a big play happens," Grabowski said. "They kept coming back and they responded."
Contact Greg Thompson at email@example.com.