Sports Editor Emeritus
It’s been almost a year since South Greene had tasted success on the football field.
That monkey on their back was getting awfully heavy.
But the Rebels turned the trick Friday night on Rebel Hill against a county rival, beating North Greene in a 34-20 shootout that was the first meeting between the two old foes in Region 1-A.
It was South Greene’s first win of the campaign, moving them to 1-3 overall, but more importantly, 1-0 in Region 1-A. North Greene drops to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Reb Coach Shawn Jones said it felt good to get the monkey off the backs of his team.
“We played a heck of a game,” he said. “We made some mistakes. We turned it over twice in the first half. We had a busted coverage when they scored (on a long pass) in the first half. Except for a few plays, we played great.”
The Rebels seemed to have the game under control in the early going, taking a 14-0 lead. But the Huskies stormed back, came within an eyelash of tying the game on the last play before intermission, then matched the Rebs in scoring in the second half until SG got a late score that gave them a comfortable margin.
The “pistol” offense of South Greene ditched the passing game for the most part in the second half, and with good reason. Two Rebs rushed for over 100 yds. -- Tim Lightfoot with 158 and two scores and Preston Shuffler with 111 and also two scores -- and quarterback Hunter Waddell neared the century mark with 98 yds. rushing.
Meanwhile, the Huskies were thwarted in the ground attack, managing only 46 yds. total in the game. But quarterback Tyler Bailey, one of the state’s best baseball pitchers, showed he could throw a football as well as he chalked up 218 yds. in the airways.
“Both teams played well and both teams made plays,” Jones said. “I’m especially proud of our seniors. That doggone Lightfoot and Shuffler ran the ball extremely hard.”
The Rebels marched 78 yds. in 9 plays on their first possession of the game to score and take the early lead. Shuffler got the touchdown on a 3-yd. run. The senior back also got an 18-yd. run in the drive, while Waddell scrambled his way to a 22-yd. run. Austin Cedillo got the extra point to give the Rebs a 7-0 lead with 5:52 left in the opening quarter.
The Huskies lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage after the kickoff and Lucas Riddle recovered for SG at the NG 33.
The Rebels marched down to the 7, but couldn’t get it in on a fourth down play. Waddell scrambled around forever before tossing a jump shot to Justin Casteel in the end zone, but the quarterback was ruled he had passed the line of scrimmage before the toss.
The Rebels got it back near midfield, though, after North Greene had to punt, and they marched to score in another 9-play drive. Waddell on a keeper tallied from 6-yds. out and Cedillo’s PAT made it 14-0 with 7:17 left until intermission.
South Greene lost another great chance to score when the Huskies left the ball lying on the ground again at their 33 and Brandon Kelly recovered. But three passes fell incomplete and a fourth one was for negative yardage.
Things then got interesting just before intermission. Pinned up at their own 5-yd. line, North Greene got it out of a hole with a 15-yd. pass to Brett Bolton. Bailey then averted a would-be sack and found a wide open Mark Trent along the left sideline, and he hit him in stride for a 68-yd. touchdown bomb. Bailey’s PAT closed the gap to 14-7.
The Rebels then fumbled the ensuing kickoff with North Greene taking over at the Reb 21 with less than a minute remaining. They moved it to the 5-yd. line but had no time outs left. Bailey again averted pressure and found Zane Britton for what appeared to be a touchdown, but a block in the back penalty nullified the score. With one final play left, Bailey tried a 31-yd. field goal which sailed left of the posts.
North Greene caught the Rebs napping to start the second half when Bailey’s pooch kickoff landed without any Rebs making an effort to grab it. North Greene’s Austin Holland recovered at the SG 40 and the Huskies moved to score.
Big plays were a 13-yd. run by Britton and a 19-yd. keeper by Bailey. Britton got the touchdown on a 1-yd. plunge, but Bailey’s PAT, after the Huskies got flagged for a false start, was no good and the Rebs were clinging to a 14-13 advantage.
South Greene then moved 80 yds. in only two plays to answer. Tim Lightfoot broke clear on a 63-yd. run. After the Rebs got flagged for a false start, Lightfoot took off around left end and found his way to the end zone from the 22-yd. line. Britton charged through to block Cedillo’s PAT and the scoreboard read 20-13.
The Rebs were driving goalward again when they lost a fumble at the NG 4-yd. line. Joseph Willett recovered.
But the Huskies couldn’t get the ball out of danger and Bailey wound up punting from deep in his end zone. Preston Shuffler hauled it in at the NG 45, and managed to weave his way through tacklers all the way to the end zone for the score. Cedillo was true on the PAT and the score read 27-13.
North Greene had to answer and they did on one play. Starting at their own 33, Bailey found Dawson Russell behind the Reb secondary and connected on another bomb, this one covering 67 yds. Bailey’s PAT made it 27-20.
The defense then shined for both teams down the stretch. South Greene took over with 6:10 left and picked up a clinching touchdown as they methodically ate up the clock. Waddell made two clutch pass plays. One was a 7-yd. pass to Casteel on a third down and 7 play from the Reb 39. The second one was a fourth down play when Waddell dumped a screen pass to Shuffler who picked up 15 yds. on a fourth and 7 play from the NG 35.
Lightfoot eventually scored the clinching touchdown on a 15-yd. run with only 36 seconds left on the clock.
“I’m really proud of this bunch and how they’ve gone into practice these past two weeks,” Jones said. “Hopefully this will jump start our season. I really think it can. We’ve got West Greene next week and we’d like to get that milk can back.”
As a team South Greene had 401 yds. of offense (367 rushing and 34 passing) while the Huskies had 264 yds. (49 rushing, 218 passing).
Next week South Greene will host West Greene, while North Greene has an open date.