Red Bank senior Tyler Wright fielded the kickoff at the 1-yard line, sprinted upfield to the 10 and stopped dead in his tracks.
Wright then sent a perfect bullet across to the left sideline, where sophomore Daune Morris caught the ball around the 8 and proceeded to make the winning play, blasting off to cut through Rhea County's coverage for a 92-yard touchdown with two minutes left.
Moments later, Jaden Baccus soared in the air deep down the visitors' sideline, and his second interception of the game sealed a 7-3 victory at Tom Weathers Field on Friday night. With it, Class 4A's state-ranked No. 4 Lions remained unbeaten through five games.
"We just worked on that fake kickoff return yesterday and decided to use it as a last minute play," Morris said. "To pull out this win is special. I love this team. We lost against them last year, so we knew it would be a hard-fought game that lasted all four quarters. We finished strong and didn't give up. We kept playing and left it all on the field."
Baccus made key plays throughout the victory.
Red Bank vs. Rhea County on Sept. 23, 2022
The senior leader and defensive back averted disaster in the first half when he used a spin move while taking a bad snap on a punt 19 yards for a first down. Baccus accounted for all three first downs for the Lions before halftime, and he also recovered a Red Bank fumble on the first play of the second half on a 34-yard run by Morris down the home sideline.
Baccus then helped one of the state's top defenses lock down for the final stop against Rhea County (1-4).
"You have to be ready for every game," Baccus said. "We made big plays when it mattered most in a big game. We played hard. It was a great game, and we kept fighting all the way until the end."
The Golden Eagles took the first lead of the night with 2:18 left in the fourth quarter when Cole Ruehling kicked a field goal after Rhea County's offense drove to the Lions' 1-yard line. Junior running back Ethan Davis stood out for the visitors, finishing with 29 carries for 143 yards.
However, the ensuing kickoff would prove to be magical for Red Bank.
"These kids leave it on the field every play," said Lions coach Ted Gatewood, who keeps adding wins in his first year leading his alma mater. "We needed that special play late. We called it, and Tyler ran it to perfection, and Daune did what he does best. He is deadly when given space. Those kids pulled it off and did a fantastic job."
Cameron Jackson also stood out for Red Bank's defense with nine tackles, including two for loss.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.