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Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Red Bank's Daune Morris carries the ball during Friday night's home game against Stone Memorial in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Big plays by the offense, defense and special teams vaulted Red Bank's football team to an insurmountable lead Friday night at home, and the Lions cruised to a 41-6 win over Stone Memorial in the first round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs.

The victory was the sixth straight for Red Bank, which entered the postseason as the top seed from Region 3.

The Lions improved to 8-3 and are set to host second-seeded Macon County of Region 4 next week. Macon County is also 8-3 after winning 28-26 on Friday to the end the season for Central (6-3) — which along with East Hamilton had challenged the Lions for Region 3's top seed during the regular season.

Red Bank advanced to the Class 3A semifinals last November before losing to perennial state power Alcoa. Now in a higher classification, the Lions have taken the first step toward another run.

"Back to work," Red Bank coach Chris Brown said. "No one in the 4A playoffs is bad. We thought [Stone Memorial] might find some holes in our schemes, and they did. We had to come out and play a good game to move on to next week.

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school football games)

Photo Gallery

Red Bank vs. East Hamilton on Nov. 5, 2021

"We did some things well, but we saw some things we've got to get better by next week. We're still a young, young football team still learning how to get better."

The Lions scored first when, with 2:28 left in the first quarter, Daune Morris broke into the Panthers' secondary on fourth-and-1 and sprinted 34 yards. Stone Memorial (6-5) responded by driving to the Red Bank 10-yard line, but the Lions forced a fumble. Red Bank junior Jaden Baccus snatched the loose ball and took it 88 yards the other way to give his club a 14-0 lead at the end of the opening period.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Baccus said. "I wanted a scoop-and-score — we run a lot of scoop-and-score drills in practice."

Late in the first half, a Baccus punt pinned the Panthers at their own 3. Red Bank's defense forced a three-and-out series, and Reco Trimble took the subsequent Stone Memorial punt from the Panthers' 38 down to the 15. A.D. Crutcher scored on the next play to give the Lions a 21-0 lead with 1:43 left in the half.

Stone Memorial got on the board with 8:36 left in the third quarter, when quarterback Hunter Heavilon threw 7 yards to Chris Hannah. Red Bank squashed any comeback hopes the visitors might have been harboring, though, when quarterback Joseph Blackmon hit Trimble for a 7-yard touchdown with 9:51 left.

The Lions' last two touchdowns came on an 8-yard run by Moore with 6:49 left and Cam Jackson's 15-yard interception return just 14 seconds later.

Red Bank's Blackmon completed 11 of 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his fumble recovery, Baccus made five catches for 49 yards. Tremble had four catches for 55 yards and a score, while Morris rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.

Contact Bob Gary at sports@timesfreepress.com.

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