Redskins tame Lions in quarterfinals

Loudon High School’s Drew Jackson breaks off a run Friday in the Redskins’ 33-14 win over the Red Bank High School Lions in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

Fans and students flooded Dukes Field when the clock struck zero Friday night to celebrate the Loudon High School Redskins’ dominant 33-14 victory over the Red Bank High School Lions.

LHS head football coach Jeff Harig knew it would take everything from his team to upend the Lions a second time this season.

“They were a solid team,” he said. “I thought in the second half, we really took control, and the offense really took over. I think we only defended 13 plays in the second half, so we knew they were most dangerous, offensively. They really dominated Chattanooga. They’re a very good football team, very physical. They gave a great effort tonight. The speed of that game is fairly intense and very hard for us to duplicate, so I felt like early on, it took us a while to get adjusted to the speed of the game, but once we adjusted after that first drive, they only scored seven points, and they started limping around a little bit.”

The Lions forced the Redskins to punt on the first drive of the game, which led to a four-play, 81-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 4-yard run into the end zone by quarterback Madox Wilkey to give RBHS a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Loudon responded with two runs by Drew Jackson for 27 yards. Even with two penalties against the Redskins, Loudon managed to tie the game four plays later with a 5-yard scamper by Keaton Harig.

Momentum began to shift early in the second quarter when the Redskins converted a fourth down with a fake punt run by Kyle Smallen. Five plays later, Keaton Harig delivered a quick strike to Smallen, who then turned up field for a 57-yard touchdown to give the Redskins a 13-7 lead.

“There were holes,” Keaton Harig said. “Their linebacker, No. 32 I think it was, would go opposite end because it was two-on-two, and our guys could get open.”

Loudon scored again on the next offensive series sparked by a 33-yard run by McKenzie Lunsford. Keaton Harig then threw a quick pass to Semy Turner for 14 yards, and Drew Jackson capped off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run.

The Lions answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive to cut the lead to 19-14 at halftime.

“I felt like once we started running the football, we got control of the game, and our kids’ confidence just continued to grow,” Jeff Harig said. “Drew Jackson played like an animal. Keaton got the ball where we needed it go. Obviously in the first half, they made some adjustments. We saw some little wrinkles in their system that kind of took advantage of what we were doing, so we had to adjust a little bit. I thought once our kids settled down and took advantage of some of the adjustments we had to make, we had guys in position, and it was just a night of tackling. I thought our tackling improved throughout the game.”

Red Bank looked to score to open the third quarter, but the Redskins’ defense stymied the offensive line and backfield to force a punt, which led to another Redskins scoring drive.

The Redskins marched 63 yards down the field before Jackson scored his second touchdown of the night after breaking two tackles and easing into the end zone to extend the lead to 26-14 midway though the third quarter.

Jackson mirrored his first performance against Red Bank, finishing the night with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He also grabbed two key interceptions in the fourth quarter to help seal the game.

“Yeah, we knew what we were expecting,” Jackson said. “They came out and did what we wanted them to do, and we just came and were being as dominant as possible.”

The Redskins’ final touchdown of the night came early in the fourth quarter when Keaton Harig delivered a 15-yard pass to Mark Ridenour in the corner of the end zone.

After throwing four interceptions Nov. 15 against Smith County, Keaton Harig bounced back with 160 passing yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.

“It was great because we were looking to have no turnovers,” Keaton said. “We had a lot of turnovers last week. It was just good to come out and execute.”

The Redskins advance to 13-0 and will play in the semifinals for the first time since 2014. They travel Friday to Alcoa High School to take on the defending Class 3A champion Tornadoes.