BY SCOTT R. FISHER
Wars are normally won by holding ground and exploiting errors by your opponent.
On Friday night, South Greene did both and came out victorious in the annual "Greene County Civil War" with rival North Greene.
The Rebels (1-3) earned the 8-7 win with a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to spoil the Homecoming for the Huskies (3-1).
Senior Katelyn Baxter was crowned the 2012 North Greene Homecoming Queen in a ceremony before the game.
"As a team, we just got by," said North Greene head coach Josh Edens. "We did not do enough. We did not execute."
Both defenses dominated the contest. South Greene managed a total of 39 yards of offense and still won the game. The Huskies were not much more proficient with 106 yards.
South Greene head coach Shawn Jones knew coming in that it would be a defensive battle.
"I told them all week we could keep them out the end zone," Jones said. "We executed our game plan flawlessly."
The turning point of the game came on North Greene's opening drive of the second half. The Huskies were denied a touchdown after getting the ball down to the one-yard line.
Senior Mason Early took the kickoff back 47 yards to the South Greene 28. Eight plays later, the Huskies faced a fourth-and-1.
The Rebel defense came up huge and held firm. North Greene would never threaten again.
"At that point, we are up 7-0," Edens said. "We have a chance to go up 14. We have a chance to punch it in."
Instead of attempting a field goal to make it 10-0 and a two possession game, North Greene came away with no points.
"I would do the same thing again," said Edens.
South Greene rallied and actually gained some yards despite starting at its own one-yard line. The Rebels crossed into the Huskies territory before punting the ball away.
South Greene appeared to be energized by the defensive stand and the next offensive drive. North Greene never fully recovered,
When asked about pulling out a win in such a difficult game, Jones did not hesitate.
"Resilience," he said. "It took resilience. That is what it takes."
Jones acknowledged the offense struggled, especially in the first half. The Rebels were held to minus 5 yards in the opening half. South Greene's offense was challenged at halftime and managed a positive 44 yards after the half.
The Huskies lone touchdown came off a turnover by the Rebels on a punt. Senior Matt Nicademus had trouble fielding a punt deep in his own zone. North Greene's Brett Bolton recovered the loose football inside the South Greene 10-yard line.
The Huskies needed only two plays to take an early lead. Senior quarterback Tanner O'Laughlin scored from five yards out on a broken play with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Coach Jones said Nicademus was upset with himself for the mistake that led to the North Greene touchdown.
"Matt Nicademus was crushed at the half time for fumbling that punt," Jones said.
But Nicademus found redemption later in the game and crushed the hearts of the North Greene fans. It was Nicademus who scooped up the loose football late in the game when North Greene's Tyler Bailey dropped the snap on a punt.
Nicademus raced 25 yards for the score with 3:35 remaining in the contest. The Rebels went for the win and converted the two-point conversion when junior Preston Shuffler found freshman Justin Casteel in the back of the end zone.
North Greene's final opportunity ended when O'Laughlin was intercepted by Casteel on fourth-and-10.
Coach Jones praised his punter freshman Lucas Riddle for a strong performance. Riddle had five punts for 177 yards.
"You have to appreciate the effort by South Greene," said a disappointed Edens. "They are getting most out of the young team the've got."
Edens told his players following the game to remember the feeling from this loss.
"I hope it hurts," Edens told his players. "If it hurts, you won't forget it. You have to come back and pick up the pieces."
For South Greene, this might be the spark the team needs to turn around a rough start.
"This is what we have needed," Jones said. "Our guys started to believe in themselves."
Next up for North Greene is a trip to Cosby next Friday. The Rebels host Greeneville.