BY EUAL SHELTON
It was a very cncerned Coach Caine Ballard prior to Greeneville's kickoff against Franklin County Friday night at Burley Stadum.
The message obviously got across to his team and on the second play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff, speedy junior Hayes Culbreth danced and darted along the sidelines avoiding tackles and raced 78 yards for the first of the Greene Devils' seven touchdown explosion to set the pace for a 49-7 rout of the visiting Rebels.
It was the first win for the Devils after an 0-2 start and Ballard had expressed before the contest just how devastating this game would be if they fell to 0-3.
"It's really big," Ballard said. "The way Knoxville Fulton is playing, even if we could win our district we could be playing on the road by the second game if we could get that far.
"I didn't make the rules. Right now we just have to go out and take care of business."
Greeneville took care of business on both sides of the ball. They racked a season high 494 yards in total offense, 295 rushing on 31 attempts and another 199 yards through the air, connecting on seven of 13 attempts for two touchdowns and one intercetion.
Defensively they held the Rebels' vaunted ground game to just 226 yards on 46 attempts with just the one touchdown and 247 yards in total offense. The Rebels tried only eight passes, hitting three for 21 yards.
After the game, a much more relaxed Ballard said, "Credit two weeks to prepare and defensive coach Dan Hammonds and his staff for having us ready to compete at that level. They did a great job.
"We had a lot of people play exceptionally well. Hayes (Culbreth) got us off to that fast start and made a great play off a fake punt with that (27 yards) run that led us to that 14-0 start. Those two plays were really big."
Big plays defensively came from Walker Troy and Michael Lane, a linebacker back from injury, and Josh Tillery came up with an interception.
While the contest was well in hand when it happened, Trey Clark's booming 63-yard punt swapped the field and the Rebels starting at their own one yard line in the final period.
Tanner Stewart rushed 12 times for 100 yards, the longest a 64 yarder and two touchdowns. Culbreth totaled 101 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman Desmond Dabbs came on late gaining 33 yards, his longest dash of 27 yards setting up his touchdown on the next play.
Greeneville's first touchdown came with 10:58 left in the opening quarter on the 78 yard sprint by Culbreth with Lincoln Taylor adding the extra point.
The GHS defense stopped the Rebels with Quan Wilson making the big hit.
Greeneville's next drive appeared stalled at the 40-yd. line but the Rebels didn't notice GHS had a different punter and Culbreth danced and darted along the sidelines for 27 yards and a first down and the Devils upped the score to 14-0 four plays later on a yard plunge by Stewart, with Taylor kicking the extra point with 1:49 remaining in the first quarter.
After a three and out to start the second quarter by the Rebels, GHS set up offensively at their own 36-yd.line.
It took only one play, a 64-yard sprint by senior quarterback Stewart to the end zone increasing the GHS lead to 21-0 with 11:32 left in the second period after Taylor's extra point kick.
Franklin County, showing no signs of panic, stayed with their ground game and punted away six plays after the kickoff with GHS taking over at the 38-yd.line.
It took Greeneville only nine plays to find the end zone again with the big play a pass from Stewart to Andrew Houston for 43 yards giving the Devils a first down at the 17 yd. line. Quan Wilson slipped into the end zone three plays later on a one yard plunge over tackle and a 28-0 lead with 5:03 left in the half.
Franklin County bounced right back with their first score of the game after the kickoff, getting a 67 yard run from halfback Coleton Nunley to set it up. Coleton finished what he started on the next play, scoring on a three yard off tackle play with 4:39 left in the opening half to cut the margin to 28-7 .
Franklin County defied the odds by going to the air on a fourth and four sitution only to have the Devils' Walker Troy close quickly on the play for no gain with GHS taking over at the 39 yd. line.
GHS threw twice, the first going behind the receiver, and the second was intercepted by the Rebels.
The Rebs put together a 12 play drive but stalled at the GHS 30 and were in a fourth and 11 when the Devils' Josh Tillery made an interception at his own two yard line.
Not a real problem for GHS on this night when everything was going their way.
Junior quarterback Zach Finchum, filling for Stewart at that point, dashed over tackle for 20 yards followed by an 11 yard off tackle run from halfback Xzvaier Goode had the ball at the GHS 33 yd. line.
A five yard penalty against GHS for illegal substitution moved it back to the 28. Finchum connected with Culbreth on a 72 yard pass-run play that pushed the lead out to 42-7 with 51 seconds remaining in the third on Taylor's extra point kick. The 35-point "mercy rule" was in effect from that point on in the contest.
GHS was reaching deep in their bench throughout the final period playing mostly sophomores and freshman.
Speedy freshman Dabbs gave Greeneville a look at the future with a 26 yard dash to the Rebels six yard line and after a half the distance penalty put the ball in play at the three yard line, he made it to the end zone on the next play to increase the final count to 49-7 with 25.1 seconds remaining.
Greeneville, now 1-2 for the season, will be on the road for the next two weeks.
They travel to South Greene Friday night to play the Rebels in their first BRAC contest of the season. Following that they will travel to Alcoa to take on the always dangerous Tornadoes.