Rebels hold off Greene County Tech rally to stay unbeaten
A team schedules an opponent from a higher conference to get tested, and Greene County Tech was the best test Highland has seen yet this season. The Rebels found themselves down four times in the game, but rallied to take a 27 point lead and held on for a 48-40 non-conference win on Sept. 14 at Highland.
The Golden Eagles brought sophomore running back Tyler Calver with them and at times he shredded the Rebel defense to the tune of 24 carries for 180 yards. However, Tech also brought a lot of mistakes with them, including two personal fouls on the same play for a grand total of 87 yards in penalties, two interceptions, a fumble, and a couple of costly bad snaps.
Rebel head coach Spencer Hill admitted that the difference in the game was his team didn't have the mistakes that Greene County Tech had.
The Highland offense struggled early in the game giving up an interception on the first drive and punting after three plays on the next two possessions.
Tech lit up the scoreboard first with a nine-play, 90-yard drive that saw quarterback Dylan Hartwig find Corey Vance for a 33-yard gain to setup a one-yard touchdown run from Brian Griffith.
The Reb defense stopped the Eagles on fourth-and-five at mid-field and it only took two plays to turn the stop into points. A 21-yard rush to the right and a 26-yard touchdown run to the left by Sterling Stowers. Highland failed on three extra point tries, including Ethan Hoppe's miss after the first touchdown as the Eagles retained the lead at 7-6 with nine minutes left in the half.
The Rebels took their first lead on another two-play drive after linebacker Shawn Young intercepted a Hartwig pass deep in Tech territory. Jordan Brewer picked up the first three yards, and Avery Johnson weaved his way for a 20-yard score for a 12-7 advantage.
Tech senior running back Travis Ryan swept in for a nine-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 14-12.
Stowers completed a six-play, 62-yard drive by hitting wide-open Reb sophomore Deon Stewart with a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 20-14 lead.
With just 11 seconds left in the half, Hartwig tried to get a late score, but was intercepted by Stowers in the end zone.
Hartwig did find tight end Hunter Matheny for an 11-yard touchdown to cap a six-play, 62-yard second half opening drive to take their last lead at 21-20.
The lead would be short-lived as Stowers finished the next drive with two passes to Hoppe; a 19-yard pass followed by a 26-yard slant in the end zone. Stowers compensated for some missed PATs by finding Michael Copeland for the two-point conversion.
Two consecutive snaps over Hartwig's head allowed linebacker Kyle Brison to fall on a fumble at the Tech 17.
Two Rebel penalties delayed the inevitable, but Highland finally scored on a six-yard Stowers run to extend the lead to 35-21.
The Reb defense forced a punt and Stowers and Brewer took turns moving the ball 75-yards for Brewer 12-yard scoring scamper.
Three incomplete Eagle passes stalled Tech's next drive allowing to Stowers and Brewer to move the ball 62-yards and a Brewer four-yard rush for the final Rebel score and a 48-21 lead.
"Our offensive line just took over in that second half. We were basically running two plays the whole second half and getting whatever we wanted," explained Hill.
The lead would be just enough as Tech scored with 4:15 left in the game when Hartwig hit Matheny for touchdown. The Golden Eagles recovered the onside kick that allowed the Hartwig-Matheny tandem to score again with just three minutes left.
"They've got some slick kids, and I'll tell you who hurt us most was that big tight end. He's a good player and made some incredible catches," said Hill. "We couldn't stop them on third downs and fourth downs. They were just making the plays there at the end."
Highland recovered the next onside kick, but a Rebel offense couldn't convert a fourth-and-eight at mid-field.
Matheny kept Tech's final drive alive by catching a 25-yard pass on fourth-and-nine, and Calver took in from three-yards out with 32 seconds on the clock. Defensive end Nik Sokolowski blocked Kyle Deroe's point-after attempt.
Highland (3-0) was led by Stowers with 16 carries for 140 yards and was seven of 12 for 117 yards passing. Brewer added 73 yards on 15 carries.