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Rebels hold of Indians in close game

Published 11:34pm Friday, September 27, 2013

By John Carvalho
Opelika-Auburn News

LOACHAPOKA — The Loachapoka players leaving the field were heartbroken after losing, 28-26, to Reeltown, but Indians head coach Jerome Tate was proud of their effort.
“Hold your head up as you go out of here,” he called to his players as they joined family and classmates at the end of the field, working through the pain of coming so close twice in the game’s final minutes.
Quarterback Courtland Cox threw his share of clutch passes, including a 15-yard scoring pass to Brandon Ferrell that brought Loachapoka within 2 with 5:21 to go. But his 2-point conversion pass and a fourth-and-7 pass on a later drive both fell incomplete, leaving the Indians with their first loss of the year.
Still, Tate was impressed by his young quarterback. Cox, a junior, is in his first year as a quarterback, starting for Loachapoka.
“He was under pressure and he did an excellent job throwing the football,” Tate said.
For Reeltown coach Jackie O’Neal, the difference was not the pass, but the run. Running back Cody Martin gained 143 yards on 20 carries, and Donte Harris added 80 yards on 18 carries, to lead the Rebels, now 3-2.
“It worked tonight,” O’Neal said, noting that they were running behind a young offensive line. “They ran the ball extremely hard. I thought Cody and Dante and Ed (Carreker) ran the ball extremely well.”
The turning point of the game, however, was a interception that Cox threw early in the fourth quarter. Takoreyan Edwards picked off a pass in the flat and ran it to the 3-yard line. Harris took it in the next play to give Reeltown a 28-20 lead.
The teams had exchanged scores in the third quarter. Harris scored from the 2 to cap a drive that saw Martin run for 44 yards, with a hit out of bounds tacking on an additional 15 yards.
But just as quickly, Loachapoka struck back, as Ryheem Sistrunk returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but Loachapoka was within a point at 21-20.
Sistrunk ended up with 91 yards rushing as well.
“He ran the snot out of the ball,” O’Neal said of the 5-foot-5 Sistrunk. “My hat’s off to any little kid who can run the ball like that.”
At the beginning of the game, however, it did not look like it was going to be that close.
The first quarter belonged to Reeltown as the Rebels found success running on the Loachapoka defense.
“They could have quit when we were down 14-0 and we fought all the way back,” Tate said.

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