LOUDON, Tenn. — Drew Jackson sure is making the most of his final high school football season.
Loudon's playmaking senior pushed undefeated Loudon to the Class 3A state semifinals with a 33-14 win over Red Bank on Friday night.
Jackson sealed a second-half shutout as he made a spectacular diving interception for his second pick in a row and the Redskins held their Region 3-3A rival to just 34 yards in the final 24 minutes.
"This is really big for us because we knew this was our chance to show we are a great team," said Jackson, who rushed for two touchdowns and broke free for 92 of his 160 yards in the second half. "I was injured nearly all of last year, and I was just trying to stay healthy and lead this team to where we are right now. We came out and went as hard as we could."
Loudon will travel next Friday to Alcoa (12-1), which beat Austin-East 56-28.
Friday marked the end of a dozen Red Bank football playing careers, but the legacy of the Lions' senior class is firmly cemented, as far as their coach is concerned. Red Bank won 40 games in the seniors' four seasons and won three region titles.
"I am just proud to be a part of what they have done," coach Chris Brown said with tears in his eyes. "They pulled through in adverse situations together. They met every challenge we had for them head on. They bought in to the discipline, the academics and everything we tried to sell them. They will definitely be remembered."
Red Bank (10-2) forced a three-and-out early in Friday's game and followed that with Lions standout Lumiere Strickland bolting for 56 yards on his first two carries before quarterback Madox Wilkey used his legs for a 4-yard touchdown.
Wilkey threw for 155 of his 188 passing yards in the first half, which included two completions covering more than 50 yards to Lucas Brown and Kel Eddins. Brown notched his 11th touchdown catch of the year as his quarterback threw a perfect strike to the front right pylon to cut the deficit to 19-14 with 27 seconds left before halftime.
A Red Bank defense that had allowed an average of only 176 yards per game entering this week, however, missed too many tackles and allowed 426 yards (275 rushing).
Loudon had a pair of huge first-down conversions on fourth downs, one inside its own 25 early on a scoring drive.
Redskins sophomore quarterback Keaton Harig was 11-of-13 passing for 151 yards and rushed for 60.
After totaling more than 200 yards in a region title-clinching victory over Red Bank to close the regular season, Jackson has now helped his team to even greater heights.
"We have to stay level-headed and focused," Jackson said. "Alcoa is one of the quickest teams in the state. So far we have been exactly the team we knew we could be, and we are going to try and be the best versions of ourselves next week again."