Rebels eliminated by North Sand MountainPublished 5:30pm Monday, November 11, 2013
By Wes Mayberry
Scottsboro Daily Sentinel/Special to the Outlook
HIGDON – The Reeltown Rebels fell to the North Sand Mountain Bison 17-7 in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs Friday night in Higdon.
“We’re happy, but we’re not satisfied. We’re going to enjoy it tonight, and we’ll get back to work tomorrow,” NSM head coach Adam Gilbert said of the victory. “We told this team that they had a chance to be the best team to ever come through here, and our motto has been ‘never satisfied’ all year long. We’re still not satisfied. This is just our first step. We just beat a great football team.”
The Bison (9-2) got off to a rocky start with quarterback Cody McBryar throwing an interception on the very first play of the game. The turnover gave the Rebels (7-4) the ball at their own 37-yard line. Running back Ariko Stewart subsequently ran the ball 43 yards to the NSM 20, but an incomplete Bradly McKeithen pass on fourth-and-five gave the ball back to the home team.
The early offensive struggles continued for both teams until McKeithen, who was back to punt, mishandled the snap to give the Bison excellent field position at the RHS 17-yard line. The ensuing drive lost yardage, however, and the Bison were forced to settle for a 39-yard Derek Alonzo field goal that gave NSM a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Rebels responded in the second quarter with a 15-play drive that drained roughly nine minutes of game clock. All 15 plays were rushes, with the penultimate carry proving to be the drive’s longest at 13 yards by Edward Carreker. Stewart carried the ball into the end zone for the one-yard score to cap the drive and give the visitors the 7-3 lead following Andrew Young’s extra point with 4:27 left in the half.
Though slightly shorter at 11 plays, the ensuing Bison drive also culminated with a touchdown. Facing third-and-two, McBryar completed a pass to running back Dexx Walsh for a 16-yard score. An Alonzo extra point gave the Bison the 10-7 lead going into halftime.
Down by three, the Rebels got the ball to begin the second half, and after reaching the NSM 20-yard line, the visitors committed a holding penalty on second down that eventually led to a questionable fourth down play call. RHS tried to convert a fourth-and-30 at the NSM 36-yard line but failed as McKeithen was only able to gain one yard on a quarterback scramble.
Neither team was able to sustain any offensive momentum for the remainder of the quarter, and NSM headed into the final period of play with the 10-7 lead.
With such a slim lead on the scoreboard, the Bison needed their defense to step up in a big way to close out the game and send NSM to the second round of the playoffs. The defense did just that, but they got some help from the offensive unit as well.
Following an NSM punt early in the quarter, the Rebels took over at their own 22-yard line. They were able to drive to their own 38-yard line but were forced to punt from there, and the RHS offense would never see the field again.
The Bison put together another impressive 11-play drive on the ensuing possession. Following five consecutive runs on this drive, McBryar completed a pass to receiver Austin Cummins for a 22-yard gain. It was all runs from that point forward, and McBryar capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown carry. Another Alonzo extra point gave NSM a 17-7 lead with 3:11 remaining in the game.
The Rebels fumbled the football on the ensuing kickoff, and after an RHS encroachment penalty on third-and-two gave the Bison a first down, the home team was able to run out the clock to seal the hard-fought, emotional playoff victory.
McBryar finished the night completing two of seven passes for 38 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding 56 rushing yards and a score on 15 carries.
Walsh contributed 77 yards on 20 carries and had the one 16-yard touchdown reception. Stewart finished the game with 87 yards and a score on nine carries for the Rebels.