Three plays is all it took for the Highland Junior Rebels to jump out to a 16-0 lead. And then they hung on to beat the junior Cavemen, 28-16, at Cave City on Sept. 8.
Junior Reb quarterback Avery Johnson started this game the way he ended last week's against Hoxie by busting through the line for a 43-yard scoring run. Brody Ninemire plunged in for the 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
On the next offensive play, Johnson found Deon Stewart on a quick sideline pass. Stewart broke a tackle and sprinted 49 yards for the touchdown. Johnson found Jake Burton for the conversion and a 16-0 score.
"We started out last week kind of slow, kind of nervous and not going as hard as we could. We end up, last week, bowing up and playing like men," explained Junior Rebel Head Coach Adam Carter. "Tonight, we started out bowing up, playing like men, going up 22 points, and then in the second half we kind of slacked off and just got lazy with it."
Cave City stopped reeling and put together its own long drive for a score. Getting behind fullback Brandt Mathews, who churned up 30 yards including a second-effort driven 1-yard TD surge, the junior Cavemen got their act together. Quarterback Cobie Robinson added the 2-point conversion to cut the score to 16-8.
"It's our first game of the year. They were nervous to start with. I told them they kind of had brain freezes on me that first couple series; kind of forgot what we were supposed to do," said Junior Caveman Head Coach Jon Bradley. "Our kids settled down and played a lot better; moved the football."
Highland (2-0) answered the junior Caveman score with its own 18-play, 63-yard drive right before half. On fourth-and-1, Johnson took it up the gut for the score. He then found Stewart for the conversion to extend the lead to 22-9.
"In the drive where they ended up scoring right before half, which was kind of back breaker, two or three times we had them third-and-long or fourth-and-short and couldn't get them off the field," said Bradley.
After exchanging punts to start the second half, the junior Rebs put together a seven-play, 50-yard drive that ended with Johnson bullying his way into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown and Highland's final score.
The junior Cavemen recovered a Highland fumble on the junior Rebs' next drive and using just two plays, turned it into a score.
Robinson picked up two yards on first down and then tossed a 68-yard scoring pass to Cody Childers to conclude the scoring.
The junior Cavemen recovered another fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but the junior Rebels intercepted Robinson three-plays later.
"I feel like both the last two weeks have been good challenges for us. Cave City is a great football team. They had some big ole' boys over there. I mean, they grow them big 20 minutes down the road. I was impressed with their size and how hard they worked," remarked Carter.
Johnson led the Rebels with 13 carries for 99 yards and was six-of-11 for 94 yards passing.
Kevin French had four rushes for 21 yards, and Stewart had two catches for 59.
Mathews led the junior Cavemen rushers with 45 yards on seven carries. Robinson was four-of-nine for 100 yards passing.