It was a beautiful night to open a season and start a new rivalry.
There was a chill in the air at the brand new stadium as everyone got a look at the new travelling trophy that would be awarded to the night's winner.
The fans were treated to some offensive fireworks as more than 20 plays gained 10 yards or better.
The defenses heard their share of cheers as they gathered four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Even the officials elicited a reaction by throwing 19 flags for 170 yards of penalties.
In the end, Rebel coach Clay Wiggins' young team was able to jell before Caveman coach Jon Bradley's young team, which led to a 28-0 Highland victory in Cave City on Sept. 3.
The Cavemen took the opening drive 49 yards before sophomore defensive back Michael Copeland intercepted sophomore quarterback Jeremy Runyan's pass at the Rebel 14.
Highland's first score came on its second drive. Having found success giving the ball to sophomore running back Jordan Brewer in the first drive, quarterback Sterling Stowers faked the hand off to Brewer and picked up 39 yards himself. Brewer added another four to get the Rebs to the 7 and Stowers swept in for the stadium's first-ever points. Ethan Hoppe, who converted all of his point-after-attempts on the night, gave Highland the early 7-0 lead.
"I've got a lot of playmakers and I told them they can't get jealous," explained Wiggins. "We've got guys that can catch it and we've got guys that can run it. We try to make the defense defend everywhere and it's kind of hard to do."
Once again, the Cavemen put together a lengthy drive, but gave the ball back on downs at the Rebel 12.
Brewer picked up 35 yards on three carries to get the Rebels in position for a Stowers-to-Will Edmondson 22-yard touchdown strike for a 14-0 advantage.
"Stowers has awareness. He's got sports-sense. He's got field awareness out here," said Wiggins. "The touchdown that he threw to Edmondson was not who we were trying to throw it to, but he and Will both made a good adjustment on the play and he was open in the end zone."
The two teams exchanged turnovers with Ben Markway intercepting a Runyan pass, and junior Kody White recovering a Stowers' fumble.
With time in the half running short, Wiggins called four consecutive pass plays. The Cavemen committed a pass interference penalty on Stowers' pass to Hoppe. The Reb QB dropped a pass off to senior fullback Scott Gatewood for a 13-yard gain. He then found junior flanker Garrett Sublett along the sideline for a 37-yard score and a 21-0 lead.
"Way too many mental mistakes. Way too many penalties. The touchdown right before half hurt us," said Bradley. "That's something we know is coming and we talked about it. Told them to watch out for it. At 14-nothing we're still in a game, but a score like that gets your head down and it's hard to come back from. I don't feel like we responded very well in the second half."
Solid defense benefited the Rebs to start the second half.
They kept the Cavemen from gaining any yards on their first drive which gave the offense great field position at the Cave City 43. Stowers rushed twice for 29 and 14 yards and the scoring was complete at 28-0.
"Some of Stowers longest runs were traps where the offensive line did a good job in their blocks," said Wiggins. "I thought the offensive line performed really well tonight."
Markway had two more interceptions in the game to stop Cave City drives, and the Cavemen recovered two additional Rebel fumbles, including a recovery by junior linemen Tyler Presser.
The Cavemen were led in rushing by Tyler Poulette with 69 yards on 12 carries. Runyan was 13-of-26 for 73 yards.
Stowers led the Rebs with 13 carries for 138 yards, Brewer had 82 yards on 12 rushes.
Gatewood added 47 yards on 11 carries to go with three receptions for 34 yards. Stowers was six-of-11 for 114 yards throwing.