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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Streak over, Rebels win

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photo/Sparks BIG HOLE: Highland's Brandon Sharp gallops up the field against the Hoxie Mustangs Sept. 19. The Rebels knocked off the Mustangs 14-7 to post their first win of the season and also snap a 14-game losing streak.
"I can't explain how good it feels," said Highland Rebel Head Coach Clay Wiggins after his team put an end to a 14-game losing streak that started two seasons ago.

It wasn't pretty.

It came on a wet field against a Hoxie Mustang team that is used to scoring points and getting big gains on the ground.

Photo/Sparks BAM: Blake Martin breaks off a big run against Hoxie.
The Rebels had three turnovers in the first half, but the defense didn't allow them to come back and bite them.

But it was the second half offense that put together two long, clock-eating drives for scores that gave Highland a 14-7 win over the Mustangs in Hoxie on Sept. 18.

The Mustangs outscored their first two opponents 62-0, but the Highland defense forced them to punt on their first drive of the game.

Photo/Sparks SLAM: Vinnie Roberto drills Hoxie quarterback Jeremy Anglin as he lets go of a pass.
Senior running back Blake Martin took Highland's first play from scrimmage 25 yards, but the offense was forced to punt four plays later.

Once again, the Rebel defense forced a punt, but this time it started a very odd three-play series.

Hoxie punter Jeremy Anglin got off a 37-yard punt, which got away from returner Scott Gatewood and was recovered by the Mustangs.

On the next play, quarterback Anglin threw a deep pass, but defensive back Jonathan Trivitt ripped it away from the Hoxie receiver to give the ball back to Highland at their own 17-yard line.

Martin coughed up the ball to give it back to Hoxie at the 19.

After all of that, Anglin threw three incomplete passes and the Rebs sniffed out a reverse for a 10-yard loss to stop the drive.

The rest of the half was filled with five punts, a Brandon Sharp fumble and enough penalties by both teams to give the officials the lead in most yards gained.

And it hadn't even started raining yet.

"We turned the ball over like we talked about we couldn't do, but the kids kept coming at them and kept coming at them," explained Wiggins. "They were pretty resilient tonight. We saw a much better effort out of our kids then we had last week. They deserve a lot of credit."

Then came the second half.

A short kickoff by Hoxie gave the Rebel offense the ball at the Highland 37.

Martin and Gatewood combined for a quick first down. An Edmondson bobble and a false start penalty moved Highland back nine yards.

Once again, Martin and Gatewood moved the ball to set up a fourth-and-3.

An offsides penalty on Hoxie gave Highland the first down. Martin picked up five, and Edmondson hit Sharp for a 16-yard gain.

The rain started to lightly fall and Martin added four yards, but Edmondson lost two on the keeper.

From the 15-yard line, Edmondson hit tight end Landon Strobbe on the hot pass for a touchdown. Coty Woodson's PAT was wide left, but Highland took the first lead at 6-0 with 6:40 left in the third.

This drive must have inspired the Mustangs, because they put together a 17-play, 80-yard drive for an Anglin 1-yard touchdown. Anglin also kicked the PAT for the 7-6 lead with 11:10 left in the game.

In the series, Gatewood sacked Anglin for an 8-yard loss, but running back Sebastian Irvin scampered for 27-yards to get the Mustangs back on track.

Undaunted, the Highland offense reeled off its own 17-play, 64-yard drive for the winning touchdown, this time led by sophomore quarterback Garrett Sublett.

On the drive, Martin had eight carries for 35 yards,

Sharp had 17 yards on three rushes and Gatewood added nine yards on three carries, but it was Sublett's blast up the middle from the goal line and his toss to Strobbe for the 2-point conversion that gave the game back to Highland 14-7 with just two minutes left to play.

Oddly enough, a personal foul on Woodson after the touchdown forced Woodson to kick off from the Rebel 25, which should have guaranteed Hoxie great field position.

However, Woodson blasted a bouncing kick past Kenny Mashburn, who chased it to the Mustang 15 and returned it to the 25.

Hoxie started its final drive with an incomplete middle screen and a false start on second down.

Vinnie Roberto sacked Anglin on third-and-long, but got a hold of the face mask on the play to shorten the down to third-and-short. Irvin's halfback pass and Anglin's next pass went incomplete.

Irvin thought the third down sidelined pass in the backfield was just incomplete but Woodson fell on the lateral to give the ball and the game to Highland.

"Defense. It's kind of hard to say how big they played tonight, because they really played big. And (Hoxie) is used to scoring quite a bit of points," said Wiggins. "Hats off to the defense, they played great. And the offense scored enough to win."

Martin led the team with 23 carries and 135 yards, and Gatewood had 30 yards on 10 carries. Edmondson completed three passes for 34 yards. The Rebels (1-2) will host Newport (0-3) on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

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