RHS special teams and defense take down Randolph Co.Published 2:08am Saturday, September 17, 2011
On a night that featured rugged defense and opportunistic special teams play, the Reeltown Rebels downed the Randolph County Tigers 21-0 in a Class 2A, Region five matchup. The Rebels scored two touchdowns in the third quarter off of two Tiger miscues that put the game out of reach.
“Our offense’s execution was awful tonight and we struggled throughout the game,” said Rebel head coach Jackie O’Neal. “But our defense played tough and our special teams made some big plays when it counted.”
The first half featured a classic defensive struggle between two hard-nosed teams. Neither offense was able to move the ball effectively and both struggled to make first downs. The Rebels only managed to produce 67-yards and four first downs for the entire half, all of them coming on the ground. The Tigers generated a paltry 74-yards.
“Our offense was lackadaisical throughout the game,” said O’Neal. “Our team is built around our defense and they played well and helped us get the victory.”
Two defensive players for the Rebels stood out with outstanding games. Kemond Gauntt had 7 tackles and a blocked punt. Ardarius Kelley had seven tackles, two sacks and one tackle for a loss. Both players contributed to a stifling defensive effort.
At the start of the third quarter, the Rebels got a big scare when star running back Tywone Stewart went down with a leg injury on the first drive. He was able to return later in the quarter, but his absence helped the Tiger defense clamp down on Reeltown’s running game and forced the Rebels to punt after a six-play 21-yard drive stalled at the 50-yard line.
After punting the ball, the defense stiffened and forced Randolph County to send in their punting unit after three plays. On fourth down, Gauntt made the play of the game when he crashed through the line and blocked the punt while teammate Jim Parks recovered the ball in the end zone for the Rebels first score with 7:20 to go in the third quarter. Leading 7-0, the Rebels had already produced the points needed to seal the victory.
On the next possession, Reeltown’s defense held the Tigers to another three and out. The ensuing punt was fumbled and Randolph County’s punter was tackled at the Rebel’s 31-yard line. This time, Reeltown’s offense did their job and grinded the ball for six plays and 31-yards for a 14-0 lead, highlighted by a four-yard touchdown run by James Smith with 3:10 to go in the third quarter.
The Rebels got another boost at the start of the fourth quarter when Tywone Stewart returned to the game. He made his presence known immediately when he intercepted a Tiger pass and ran it back for 45-yards. However, the spark would soon fizzle as the Reeltown offense returned to its sluggish play. They would only manage 89-yards and six first downs in the entire second half, with most of this production coming in the latter third and early fourth quarters.
Reeltown’s final score came off a great defensive play when Jestavia Norris recovered a Tiger fumble, setting up the Rebel offense on the Tiger 26-yard line.
Eight plays later Stewart scampered into the end zone for 21-0 lead with 5:19 to go in the final quarter.
“Tywone has been struggling with some nagging injuries,” O’Neal said. “I think he is trying too hard to make things happen, but I think we can get that corrected.”
Reeltown (3-0, 3-1) will step out of region play next week and travel to Loachapoka.