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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Technical knockout

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BIG LOAD: Eric Roberts wrestles down Greene County Tech's 6-4 tight end Caleb Hartwig in action from Sept. 12. Highland fell to the Class 5A Golden Eagles 53-21. Photo/Sparks
It's hard to find the positive in a 53-21 loss, but the Highland Rebels made great strides between the first game at 6A Mountain Home and the 5A Greene County Tech game at home on Sept. 12.

The quarterback-center exchange was nearly flawless in week two, which allowed senior quarterback Cannon Davis to spend more time looking for receivers, handing off to a running back or, dare I write, run the ball. Davis picked up positive yards on three running plays, including an 11-yarder.

The Rebel offense still has a long way to go when it comes to protecting the ball, however.

The Golden Eagles forced two fumbles and one interception.

But to Highland's credit, those takeaways happened in the first half and the Rebs were able to protect the ball in the second half.

"Offensively, we did some better things tonight. But we had those two big fumbles that they returned for touchdowns," said Rebel Head Coach Clay Wiggins. "We're going to have to get better offensively. We've got a rough road ahead and we had better start getting better in a hurry."

That rough road starts with a very talented 3A Hoxie team, including future Texas Longhorn Derek Johnson, visiting on Sept. 20, and then continues on to conference foe Newport the following week.

The Eagles started quickly by easing through an 11-play opening drive that concluded with quarterback Seth Tripod scampering in from 7 yards out and then Standrick Williams picking up a Rebel fumble and rumbling for a 52-yard touchdown, giving GCT a 12-0 lead. The Eagles missed both of their extra-points.

Cornerback Justin Bryant stopped Tech's next drive with an interception that he returned 47 yards to the 3-yard line.

Fullback Blake Martin lost three yards on the first play and a holding call backed up the Rebs, which did give Davis room to hit Eric Roberts in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Jeff Tate's PAT was good to cut the Eagle lead to 12-7.

Highland was unable to capitalize on the momentum as the Golden Eagles scored four unanswered touchdowns to complete the half.

Tripod hit Dalton Adcock on a screen pass for a 50-yard score. Tripod found Trevor DeAngelo across the middle for a 30-yard TD. Linebacker Sean Lenderman picked up Martin's second fumble for a 23-yard touchdown, and with one minute left in the half, Tripod pushed ahead for a 3-yard touchdown to give Tech a 39-7 halftime lead.

"They do things that we have a hard time guarding -- like spread us out and make us make tackles in the open field," said Wiggins. "We're not real quick and we have a hard time covering the whole field like that. This new coach came in and brought that new offense. It really shows that we struggle defensively when someone spreads us out like that."

Being only three points from the 'mercy rule' to start the second half, it was very important that Rebels score on their opening drive.

The Highland offense did their part and drove 66 yards to get Martin a 4-yard blast up the middle for a touchdown.

Receiver Matt Schneider kept the drive alive by taking a Davis pass and diving for a first down at the four yard line after a 16-yard gain.

Schneider ran the onside kick to perfection by kicking and covering the ball himself at the GCT 46-yard line.

"We talked about whether we won the game or not, we wanted to come back out and win the second half. We had our best offensive drive of the season," explained Wiggins. "We got down there and finally scored. We recovered the onside kick and we went down there and they stopped us, but we ended up scoring again."

The Rebels drove all the way to the 4, but Davis couldn't complete the pass to senior receiver Caleb Davidson in the back of the end zone.

The Rebel defense nearly got a touchdown when defensive end Kyle Jurczyk rushed Tripod in the end zone and Johnny Walls almost corralled the tipped pass.

The defense was able to force the Eagles to punt, and Tripod only got 10 yards on the kick.

Two Michael Tarver rushes later and the Rebels had cut the game to 39-21. Tate was good on all four of his extra points on the night.

That would be the last Rebel score and GCT (1-1) would go on to score two more times.

Tripod hit tight end Caleb Hartwig over a leaping Roberts for a 17-yard TD. Williams swept right for 18 yards on play one and swept left for 31 yards on play two to reach the end zone to complete the scoring.

"I don't think the kids gave up. I think we got tired," said Wiggins. "That offense that they run, you've got to be in good condition to chase them all over the field."

Senior tackle Ryan Whited and Roberts lead Highland (0-2) with six tackles, followed by Martin and Brad Harris with five.

Tarver led Rebel rushers with 74 yards on 14 carries. Martin carried 10 times for 29 yards and Scott Gatewood had seven carries for 25 yards.

Davis was 10-of-23 for 112 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Seven receivers had catches for Highland.

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