Stewart, Martin power Rebels over Blue DevilsPublished 11:31pm Friday, November 1, 2013
By Griffin Pritchard
Outlook Staff Writer
In what was more than likely the final chapter of a long-time rivalry, Reeltown collected its eighth-straight win over rival Notasulga Thursday night, 39-12.
“This is probably the last game we are going to play against them, so we wanted to come out and play hard,” said Rebels’ sophomore running back Cody Martin.
Martin (92 yards, two touchdowns) and Ariko Stewart (96 yards, two touchdowns) fueled Reeltown’s rushing attack that amassed 330 yards on 53 carries.
“We had a pretty good gameplan and we executed it pretty well,” said Jackie O’Neal, coach of the Rebels. “We did some things the kids were used to, we ran right at them and were physical. Now it’s about getting our kids healthy and getting them ready for the playoffs.”
Despite the lopsided score, both coaches were optimistic about the weeks to come.
Reeltown turns their blue and white eye onto the Bison of North Sand Mountain (7-2), their first-round playoff opponents.
“We’ve got a lot of experience in the playoffs, but you’ve got to prepare like it’s your last week,” said O’Neal. “It’s a one-game series. If we win that one, we wake up Saturday and start working for the next week.”
Notasulga’s attention shifts to basketball season.
“We are in a rebuilding state,” said James Lucas, coach of the Blue Devils. “But it really showed that I didn’t have that Alpha Dog that I’ve had in years past, the one that’s going to make these boys do right on the field and off.”
With the rushing attack finding its feet, the Fightin’ Rebels (7-3) scored early and often during Thursday’s affair. Junior quarterback Bradly McKeithen (3-of-6 for 54 yards, playing in place of Cody Spivey (illness) capped the first drive of the game by pushing the ball into the end zone from one yard out.
Andrew Young added the point after to Reeltown a 7-0 lead with 5:08 to play in the opening quarter. Notasulga (4-6), after fielding the ensuing kickoff, had the ball stripped and recovered by their rivals. The Rebels used a pass interference call to move inside the Blue Devils’ 40-yard line.
Stewart broke free on a 23-yard run down to the 17-yard line. Ed Carreker moved the ball to inside the 10. Stewart later capped the drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone.
“It’s a good time for us to be getting back healthy,” said O’Neal. “We want to be a physical ball club. We want to run the football, and we don’t mind throwing it. We missed two or three touchdowns where we missed the receivers. Bradley did a good job stepping in. But our offensive line did a tremendous job of opening the holes so we could move the ball.”
Reeltown’s march continued in the second period. After taking over on a Notasulga punt, McKeithen connected on a 23-yard pass to Martin that moved them to the 4-yard line.
Another rush moved the Rebels to the two. Stewart capped the drive with another two-yard blast into the end zone.
“This is a big game – it’s our rival and it gets us ready for next week,” said McKeithen.
On their next possession, the Blue Devils began to string together a drive but had it halted due to an errant snap that left junior quarterback Robert Surge surrounded by white jerseys.
Reeltown took over and used runs by Martin, Carreker and a 10-yard fourth-down pass from McKeithen to Devonte Ferrell to set the Fightin’ Rebels up for another score. Martin went over the top on second down for the touchdown. Again, the Blue Devils turned the Rebels away on the two-point try. Reeltown carried the 25-0 lead into the locker rooms for intermission.
Martin punched it in from one-yard out as the Rebels expanded their lead to 32-0 (Young’s PAT was good) with 7:45 left to play in the third quarter.
Reeltown’s final points of the night came on a 56-yard Montez Brooks touchdown run. Young added another point after and the Fightin’ Rebels led 39-0.
“It’s disappointing that you had all this talent and it didn’t come together,” said Lucas. “Coming out of the Loachapoka game, we just weren’t the same. We battled injuries the whole time.”
Surge connected with Aurick Cloud for the Blue Devils’ first score of the night. He then hit Martavious Brown inside the five to set up their second score. Surge converted the short touchdown run to cap the scoring.