THE STAR: Eric Bennett finished with four total touchdowns and tossed the game-winner to Jordan Harvey in the second overtime period.
WHAT’S NEXT: East Ridge will travel to Sequatchie County, which defeated Notre Dame 56-28.
Second chances are even more valuable come postseason time, and the East Ridge Pioneers made the most of theirs in a 35-28 Class 3A second-round win Friday at Red Bank in a heavyweight bout on the football field.
It took two overtimes to separate the rival teams that slugged it out to a 21-21 tie at the end of regulation.
"That was typical East Ridge and Red Bank football, wasn't it?" Pioneers coach Tim James said. "It's good to come up on the winning side. Our guys are fighters. It isn't always pretty, and they're like the cardiac kids, but they found a way."
A missed East Ridge field-goal try as time ticked below 30 seconds was followed by Red Bank (8-4) scoring on its first overtime possession with three straight runs from Zay Brown, who finished with 133 yards rushing. Then the Pioneers (7-5) faced fourth down and the end of their season on the ensuing possession.
Eric Bennett lofted a play-action pass into the end zone that fell to the turf incomplete, but lying there also was a yellow flag.
Traneil Moore got the call from the 4-yard line after the pass-interference penalty and bowled over a Lions defender in giving his team new life with a touchdown. East Ridge got the ball back, and Bennett connected with Jordan Harvey for his fourth total touchdown and what became the game winner.
"Things didn't really go our way with the field goal, but it all came out in the end," James said. "Our guys kept battling. It was a heck of a ballgame."
The contest was tight from the start, knotted at 7-7 at halftime with 120 yards and seven first downs for each team. Bennett opened the scoring with a first-quarter touchdown run and Red Bank's Calvin Jackson added a 22-yard scoring run with 2:32 to go in the half.
"We knew it was going to be a close game," Lions coach Chad Grabowski said. "I was nervous all day and sick to my stomach. We knew it was going to be a tough one."
Jackson helped make it 14-7 on the first possession of the second half, but two East Ridge touchdowns handed Red Bank its first deficit.
Bennett found Jordan Lindsey for a 56-yard score and added a 2-yard run in the third quarter to make it 21-14.
Red Bank came back in the fourth to tie it on Kedrick Richardson's effort on fourth-and-goal from the 1, but it came at a steep price as Jackson was hurt on the drive and never returned.
The Lions scored on their first possession of overtime but couldn't respond when Bennett gave the Pioneers the lead.
"Calvin getting hurt took away a lot of what we could do on offense," Grabowski said. "They beat us. They executed when they needed to, and we couldn't. We accomplished a lot more than people thought we would this year, so we have to take that."
Moore paced East Ridge with 134 yards on the ground, and the Pioneers will travel to Sequatchie County, which knocked out Notre Dame 56-28.
Contact Idris Garcia at email@example.com