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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rebels prove to be better mudders

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photo/Sparks MUD MEN: Scott Gatewood battles the elements and the Westside defense for some hard-earned yards Oct. 9.
Mud must be the great equalizer for the Highland Rebels.

They did all of the same things they did against Trumann a week earlier.

They fumbled away the ball.

They racked up penalty yards.

They played tough defense.

But this time, they won the game, beating Westside 20-0 at homecoming on Oct. 9 for their first conference win.

"It was going to boil down to a game of who could hang on to the football and who can control the ball on offense and tonight we proved to be the better mudders," said Rebel Head Coach Clay Wiggins.

The Warriors actually fumbled the ball six times, but never lost possession. They did lose 36 yards in the process, though.

Shad Storey, Jeremiah Fielder and Cody McGinnis all recovered Rebel fumbles for Westside, but the offense couldn't do anything with them.

As a matter of fact, the Reb defense held the Warriors' offense to negative seven yards in the first half and 23 yards for the game.

On the other hand, the Rebel offense was able to move the ball at opportune times; finishing the night with 232 total yards from scrimmage.

Blake Martin and Scott Gatewood's power running was much more successful than Westside's quick sweeps.

It should be noted that running back Tyler Hibbs was not able to play for the Warriors on Friday.

"When you have a game like that, it's kind of a wildcard sometimes. You don't know what's going to happen," explained Wiggins. "It's hard to do a lot of different things in conditions like this. What we do and what they do, we were able to do it a little bit better tonight."

The ball didn't move out of Warrior territory on the first five possessions and Highland was finally able to take advantage of that on their second try with the ball.

Bryon Jackson's punt from the Warrior 23 went out of bounds at the 35.

Brandon Sharp lost a yard on first down. Martin picked up six on second and Gatewood found an opening up the middle and then to the right for 25 yards.

Martin had struggled with a couple of pitches in first series, but took the next one to the left for the 5-yard touchdown. Highland was flagged for a delay of game before the PAT and couldn't convert the 8-yard two-pointer.

With three minutes left in the first quarter, Highland was up 6-0.

With numbers starting to disappear on both team's uniforms, neither side could manage any yards for most of the second quarter until the Rebels' final drive.

Except for scoring, the offense reeled off a 15-play, 56-yard, near-perfect drive, but Highland gave the ball back to the Warriors at the 19 after two incomplete passes in the end zone.

The final drive of the half led the Rebels right into a scoring drive opening the third quarter.

Ben Markway returned the short kickoff to the Highland 41.

Gatewood churned out nine yards on first down. Martin was inches short of moving the chains on second down. Proving he can run the ball, quarterback Will Edmondson continued to find yards on the sneak as he got 10 yards on third down.

Martin pushed the ball to the 29 and Gatewood carried it the rest of way for the score.

A facemask penalty on Westside during the two-point try moved the ball to the one and a half, allowing Edmondson to expand the score to 14-0 at the 9:54 mark of third.

Highland's final score came early in the fourth after the Reb defense forced the Warriors to give up the ball on downs at the Westside 34.

Gatewood had rushes for seven, 16 and the 4-yard TD blast through the middle to complete the scoring.

The Rebel rushers were led by Gatewood with 118 yards on 15 carries. Martin had 15 totes for 57 yards. Edmondson was three-of-nine for 14 yards and had 34 yards on eight carries.

With Osceola, Gosnell and Newport fighting for the top of the conference and the playoff spots one through three, Highland has its eyes set on spots four or five.

With Valley View and Pocahontas winless at 0-3 in conference and Trumann, Westside and Highland tied for fourth with 1-2 records, the Rebels have a realistic chance for a playoff spot.

If they can reduce the turnovers and penalties, continue to trudge out yards and play tough defense, an extra game could be in the cards.

"We've been talking about going to the playoffs," said Wiggins. "That may sound crazy, but you've got to start the run somewhere."

Highland (2-4, 1-2) will travel to Valley View on Oct. 16.

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