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Red Bay rides Lewey, dominant defense to win over Cherokee

Aaron Lewey rushed for a season-high 161 yards and two touchdowns for Red Bay on Thursday, and Kolby Bragwell’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Luke Rooker early in the third quarter put the Tigers on top for good in their 22-14 victory over Cherokee on Senior Night at Fred Bostick Memorial Stadium.

With the win, Red Bay (5-5) avoided what would have been its first losing season since 2010. The Tigers delivered a dominant defensive performance, holding an explosive Cherokee offense to just 121 total yards and seven first downs. The Indians (7-3), who had topped the 40-point mark four times in their first nine games, went just 1-for-13 on third down Thursday night and 0-for-6 on fourth down.

Red Bay’s defense picked off more passes (three) than Cherokee completed (two, in 14 attempts). Bragwell, a junior safety, and freshmen Cam McKinney and Jalen Vinson each had an interception for the Tigers. McKinney, an inside linebacker, led the team in tackles for the seventh time this season, recording 11 total stops. He finished his freshman season with a team-leading 98 tackles.

Lewey, one of eight Red Bay seniors honored on Thursday night, once again carried the load for the Tigers on offense. He ran for two touchdowns (his 15th and 16th of the season) in the game’s first 13 minutes to stake Red Bay to an early 14-0 lead and finished the night with a career-high 36 carries. His 161 yards gave him eight 100-yard games on the season and put him over the 2,000-yard rushing mark for his varsity career. [He finished this season with 1,198 yards on 218 attempts.]

Cherokee rallied to tie the game 14-14 with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, but Bragwell found Rooker for a 14-yard score with 8:34 left in the third quarter to put the Tigers back in front. They went for two and converted, extending the lead to 22-14, and the Red Bay defense took care of the rest.

Rooker, another senior, had two catches for 42 yards. He finished the season with 30 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns, all team-highs, and averaged 18.8 yards per catch.

Bragwell attempted only seven passes Thursday night, completing two for 42 yards. He also rushed 12 times for 57 yards. The junior finished his second season as the starting quarterback with 888 passing yards and six passing touchdowns to go along with 569 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Red Bay out-gained Cherokee 304 total yards to 121 and had more than twice as many first downs (15 to 7). The Tigers rushed for 262 yards on 56 carries and held the Indians to just 95 yards rushing.

Red Bay’s win, along with Sheffield’s victory over R.A. Hubbard, keeps Colbert Heights in the running for the Class 3A, Region 8 championship. If St. John Paul II loses to Clements tonight and Priceville loses to Westminster Christian, Colbert Heights will claim its first region title since 1999.

In other action on Thursday night:

Hackleburg 30 Phil Campbell 16

Peyton Thomas accounted for 190 total yards of offense and two touchdowns on Thursday night at Parrish Field, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Phil Campbell’s 15th consecutive loss to rival Hackleburg.

Thomas, a senior quarterback playing his final game for the Bobcats (1-9), threw for 105 yards and a score on 10-for-29 passing and also rushed 12 times for a season-high 85 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Thomas completed 52 percent (148-of-284) of his attempts for 1,683 yards and 11 touchdowns while also rushing for 313 yards and five scores.

Tight end Brody Nix, another Phil Campbell senior, caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown Thursday night. He finished the season with team-highs in catches (31), receiving yards (403) and receiving touchdowns (three).

Trey Leindecker caught a 30-yard pass on Thursday, and Ridge Raper added three grabs for 16 yards. Brandon Thomas caught one pass for 16 yards. Phil Campbell finished with 211 total yards of offense (105 passing and 106 rushing).

Nix, who also starts at linebacker, led the Bobcats in tackles on Thursday for the ninth time this season, recording eight stops. He finished the season with 76 tackles. Leindecker added seven tackles on Thursday, and Seth Brindley had six. Hunter Hutcheson and Dylan Mansell each had five tackles, and Raper and Brandon Thomas each picked off a pass.

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