A win against a one-loss Redskin team with a conference championship and a number one playoff seed on the line is exceptional.
The three-game winning streak over the Redskins is nice, too.
According to Rebel Head Coach Spencer Hill, his team's ability to keep their composure throughout and make the plays they needed to is what led Highland to a 34-25 victory over the Redskins at Pocahontas on Oct. 28.
The Rebels spent the season using the running talents of quarterback Sterling Stowers and running back Jordan Brewer, while mixing in the passing game. Pocahontas got a different look from Highland Friday night, because Brewer didn't get a carry until the second quarter as the offense relied on the passing game.
The passing game produced three touchdown throws from Stowers to Ethan Hoppe in the first half.
"He's a weapon. We've got a 6-6 kid out there that can catch the ball," explained Hill. "They're running man-coverage out there and he's just hard to stop one-on-one."
Highland started the game with three passes, two incomplete, to force a Kamran Seat punt.
The Redskins took their opening drive 60 yards for a Spencer Thielemier to Jonathan Adams 3-yard touchdown. Thielemier added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 6:26 left in the first.
Highland answered with an eight-play, 66-yard drive that concluded with a 16-yard scoring pass from Stowers to Hoppe, followed by a Hoppe PAT to tie the game. Stowers completed a 22-yard pass to Michael Copeland, a 12-yarder to Hoppe, and found freshman Avery Johnson for an 18-yard gain on the drive.
Johnson, who helped the junior Rebels to a undefeated season the night before, was one of several freshman traveling with the senior team. He was instrumental, catching four balls for 84 yards and a touchdown.
The two teams exchanged punts, but the Rebels' punt was returned to the Highland 29 to give Pokey a short field for its second score, a Thielemier 1-yard rush up-the-middle. Kyle Brison got around the edge in time to get a hand on Thielemier's point-after attempt to keep the score at 13-7.
Once again, Highland answered the Redskin score with its own.
Hoppe broke a tackle to gain 45 yards on a Stowers pass. The Reb QB picked up 14 yards on the ground and threw a 10-yard pass to Ben Markway before hitting Hoppe in the end zone for the 6-yard TD and a 14-13 lead.
The Redskins were on the move again, but Copeland intercepted a deep Theilemier pass. The Rebs would punt four plays later, but Brison intercepted Theilemier on first down with 58 seconds left in the half.
Stowers started the possession with two misfires and then ran for 39 yards. He found Hoppe over-the-middle to get to the 7-yard line. Stowers managed a 2-yard gain and then hit his third TD pass to Hoppe with seven seconds left and a 21-13 halftime advantage.
Pocahontas changed its offense for the second half by giving the ball to Logan Whisnant six times early in the opening drive for 22 yards and then letting Thielemier run it three times for 17 yards to set up the Whisnant 1-yard TD run. Theilemier completed the conversion pass but the receiver was not able to score.
The next possession was basically Sterling Stowers meet Avery Johnson.
Stowers hit Johnson on a 26-yard pass, a 27-yarder and a 13-yard touchdown strike.
Johnson caught the pass with the Redskin defensive back draped over his shoulders.
Coach Hill went against the conversion chart cheat sheet he keeps in his pocket that suggested going for the PAT. Stower's pass to Severn was incomplete, but Highland extended the lead to 27-19, a one-possession game.
Not skipping a beat, Pocahontas ground out a 14-play, 60-yard drive for a Thielemier 1-yard TD. The Reb defense stopped Adams' conversion run, but the Redskins cut the score to 27-25.
Here comes the Rebel running game.
Stowers reeled off 11 yards on first down. Two plays later, he found an opening and scampered 63-yards for a game-sealing score. Hoppe added the PAT for the final score.
Copeland intercepted his second Thielemier pass in the end zone to halt Pocahontas' next drive, which gave Highland a chance to mount a long 10-play, clock-eating drive.
"When we jumped up nine points, two scores, I got the O-line together and said you guys are going to win the game here, get some first downs, eat that clock up, and that's what they did," said Hill.
It ended with Stowers quick-punting on fourth-and-12, but the damage was done. The Redskins had less than two minutes to score twice.
Pocahontas worked the ball down to the Rebel 20, but had to give the ball back on downs with 15 seconds left in the game.
"Pocahontas is so balanced. They are so well coached," said Hill. "Very proud of our defense that gave up 25 points to a really powerful offense."
Stowers led the team with 16 carries for 169 yards and was 14-of-26 for 219 passing. Brewer finished the game with 24 yards on eight carries. Hoppe had six catches for 98 yards.
Highland (7-1, 4-1) can get its first outright conference championship since 1999 with a win over Trumann on Thursday, Nov. 3.