"They battled," Rebels Head Coach Spencer Hill said of Gosnell. "Their kids played really hard. We uptempoed them in the second quarter and were able to get a couple touchdown lead on them, but they kept coming back. Hats off to their kids. They're very talented and they're going to win a lot of games."
The Pirates' offense started by marching down the field on a 10-play, 44-yard drive, but the Rebels stopped two quarterback sneaks to get the ball back on downs at the Highland 15. Unfortunately, they would have to punt four plays later.
Gosnell picked up a first down, then pitched the ball to Marcus Mullins, who raced 44 yards for the first score and a 7-0 Gosnell lead.
Highland used a 12-yard pass from Sterling Stowers to Avery Johnson and a Johnson 16-yard sweep to setup a 10-yard Jordan Brewer touchdown. A defensive offside penalty on the point-after attempt allowed the Rebs to go for the two points, which Brewer converted for an 8-7 Highland lead.
Once again, Gosnell worked the ball down the field, but was eventually forced to punt.
"We just missed too many tackles," Hill said. "That's one of the things we really did well last week against Valley View, but we didn't do it this week, and we've got to continue to work on that."
On the next series, Stowers had 29 yards on three carries along with 34-yard pass over-the-middle to Cody Odell. Brewer followed with an 18-yard run and a four-yard TD rush. Ethan Hoppe, who made all five of his PATs, made the score 15-7 with 6:11 left in the half.
The Rebel offense scored again on a seven-play, 41-yard drive. On third down, Johnson slid to catch a Stowers' pass at the Pirate two-yard line. Stowers then scored the one-yard touchdown for a 22-7 advantage, which was the halftime score.
Highland efficiently moved the ball to start the second half. Brewer had a 20-yard scamper, Stowers hit Hoppe for a 23-yard gain along the sideline, Johnson swept for 10 yards, and Stowers scored on an eight-yard rush for a 29-7 lead.
Gosnell responded when Pirate running back Al Jones found a hole on first down, and sprinted for an 81-yard touchdown to cut the Highland lead to 29-15.
The Rebels answered, two plays later, with a Johnson 41-yard pitch that saw the sophomore break multiple tackles to get into the end zone to make the score 36-15.
Gosnell ground out an eight-play, 65-yard drive for a Dwight Griffen to Marcus Mullins 31-yard touchdown with 6:55 left in the third.
A 27-yard pass from Stowers to Johnson got the ball to the Pirate 10. Stowers lost five-yards on the next play, but Brewer got eight back to allow Hoppe to score on a seven-yard pass from Stowers.
On the next series, Gosnell faced a fourth down from the Highland 45. Griffen launched a deep ball that Rebel corner Cody Odell should have let drop to the ground, but he intercepted, and the Rebels took over at the Reb's eight-yard line.
Highland was not able to move the ball and was forced to punt.
"Our offense at times did very well, and at times not. I hate saying that since we scored 58 points. We're just making the same mistakes sometimes, and we've got to clean that up," explained Hill. "I tell you what, our offensive line can still take over the game. We've been able to run on everybody we've played."
Linebacker Shawn Young had the first of two interceptions to stop Gosnell's next possession.
Stowers threw only his fourth interception of the season to Ricky Gable at the Pirate four-yard line.
Young's second interception came three plays later at the Pirates' 13, which the junior returned for a touchdown and a 51-22 lead.
Although Gosnell put together a decent drive all the way to the Rebel 31, safety Brennan Severn intercepted a Griffen pass at the goal line, and returned it to the Highland 19 with 4:12 left in the game. Stowers broke through and found the sideline on his way to an 81-yard touchdown run for the game's final score.
Highland (7-0, 4-0) was led by Stowers with 205 yards on 16 carries, to go with seven of 15 for 121 yards passing. Brewer had 13 rushes for 80 yards, and Johnson added 70 yards on four carries. Johnson led the team in receptions with four for 57 yards.
The Rebels will travel to Cave City for the Sharp County Showdown on Oct. 19.