South Greene outdueled rival West Greene in a hard-fought game 31-15 Friday night at "The Range" in the annual battle to see which school gets to retain the old can, the subject of much bragging between parents and students of the two communities over the years.
The victory kept the Rebels in a virtual tie with Cloudland for the top spot in the Region 1-2A standings, and set the stage for a showdown next Friday on Rebel Hill between the Rebs and Highlanders.
South Greene improves to 4-1 on the year, 3-0 in the region. West Greene drops to 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the regional standings.
Both schools celebrate homecoming next week. West Greene will entertain Hampton.
As has often been the case over the past two decades or so, this was a war with both teams playing hard. But South Greene just had too much firepower behind the running of Spencer Mathes and Neal Ricker and the smooth ball-handling ability of quarterback Adam Hansel. Ricker scored three TDs in the game and Mathes scored twice.
West Greene looked especially sharp early, taking a 7-0 lead and holding the advantage until the Rebs got their offense clicking in the second period and took the lead for keeps.
Mathes finished the night with 112 yds. rushing to lead South Greene's ground assault, which piled up 275 yds. Ricker added 69 yds. and Hansel got 55 yds. In addition, Hansel passed for another 102 yds., with Wesley Parkins on the receiving end of four aerials for 80 yds.
West Greene got 57 yds. rushing from Daniel Jones, but as a team they had only 31 net yards rushing as quarterback sacks took its toll on the yardstick. Quarterbacks Jonathan Greenlee and Josh Dearinger both played and combined for 79 yds. through the air.
The Buffs hoped to control the football against the Rebs, and they were able to do that in the opening quarter. Greenlee passed to Joseph Trantham for 12 yds. and a first down in the opening drive of the game before Daniel Jones had to punt on fourth down.
South Greene took over at their 40, but on their first play from scrimmage, they fumbled the football and Jacob Harmon recovered at the 39. Rain fell before the start of the contest and at times during the game, leaving the newly-sodded Buff turf slippery.
The Buffs were able to take advantage of the turnover, thanks to the hard running of Jones. They got help on a 15 yd. pass interference call against the Rebs as well, and moved 39 yds. in six plays to score.
Daniel Jones blasted over left tackle and found a huge hole to score from 15 yds. out. He also kicked the extra point, and West Greene had the home crowd rocking with a 7-0 lead with 5:49 left in the quarter.
But the Rebs wasted little time in getting on the board.
Starting at their 45 after a nice return by Chase Haney on the kickoff, Mathes and Hansel went to work running the ball and got help from a holding call against the Buffs.
With 3:57 left in the first, Mathes scored on a 10 yd. run to cut the gap to 7-6, and the score remained there as the two-point conversion try failed. The Rebs initially tried for a kick, which failed, but kicker Neal Ricker was roughed up on the play and South Greene got another chance from the one.
South Greene drove all the way to the Buff 19 on their next possession before turning it over on downs. The big play in that drive was a 37 yd. pass from Hansel to Parkins.
West Greene couldn't get it out of their side of the field, and the Rebels got a break when Jones dropped back to punt for the Buffs and the snap from center was bobbled. Jones tried to pass the ball, which fell incomplete, and South Greene took over at the WG 19.
Three plays later, the Rebels were in the end zone on Ricker's 5 yd. run. Hansel tried to run for the conversion but was stopped short, but the Rebels were in the lead for keeps at 12-7.
West Greene averted disaster when Greenlee fumbled the ball on their next possession and South Greene's Ricky Malone recovered at the Buff 28. But the WG defense held South Greene on four downs.
West Greene took over at the 30 but three plays later they were back at their 15, thanks to a pair of quarterback sacks by Phillip Waddell. Jones' punt gave the Rebs the ball at the WG 39.
South Greene went on to score this time, overcoming a pair of 5-yd. illegal procedure penalties plus a big 15-yarder for a personal foul. Hansel got part of the yardage back on a 22 yd. pass to Haney, then Hansel scrambled for a first down on a fourth-and-six situation.
Mathes took it on in, with an 18 yd. scamper to the 7, and two plays later, barging over from a yard out. The conversion pass failed and SG was up 18-7.
Dearinger hit Frankie Ottinger for a 17 yd. gainer on a pass to midfield, but sacks again halted the Buffs. South Greene also hit a big play just before intermission, with Hansel connecting with Parkins for a 27-yarder down to the Buff 21, but time ran out before they could get another snap off.
South Greene then pretty well put the icing on the cake by driving 80 yds. in 12 plays after taking the second half kickoff. It was a well-executed drive, with Ricker bulling over some people on a 21 yd. run and Mathes showing some good footwork on another 20 yd. run. Hansel hit Parkins on a 9 yd. pass and then ran 10 yds. for another first down. Ricker took it in from 4 yds. out with 5:47 left in the third, and Ricker also kicked the conversion for a 25-7 lead.
Jones got 19 yds. rushing on two plays before fumbling the ball away with Willis Shivers recovering for the Rebs at the SG 41.
They marched the 59 yds. to score again. Hansel had 17 yds. on a keeper, and Ricker had his first touchdown run of 27 yds. called back due to a holding penalty. He later scored on a 6 yd. blast on the first play of the final period. The extra point kick failed.
West Greene got their final touchdown on a 4 yd. run by Dearinger with only 15 seconds left in the contest. Earl Stanley caught a two-point conversion pass from Dearinger.
That score was set up when South Greene fumbled a punt and the Buffs' Justin Matthews recovered at the SG 25.
Dearinger hit Joey Slaton on a 28 yd. pass down to the 5, and two plays later Dearinger took it to the house.