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Rebels top 'Roaders for first 'W'

September 30, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

BRUNSWICK, Md. - South Hagerstown made adjustments to its running game and added a trick play to its offense in practice this week.

The changes worked perfectly in South's MVAL Antietam opener against Brunswick on Friday night. The Rebels racked up 251 yards on the ground and converted a reverse pass for a touchdown en route to a 28-12 victory.

Six different rushers powered the Rebels' running attack. Tony Bender led with 88 yards and a touchdown and Eric Phillips added 85 yards and a score.

Instead of separating the running backs and linemen in practice as usual, South's coaches brought the units together to work and gain continuity. South also focused more on running between the tackles, all a part of this week's strategy.

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"We noticed that (Brunswick's) defensive ends were working on the outside," said South coach Greg Kellick. "We knew we weren't going to be able to sweep, so we've been preaching cut-backs. We were going to have to run from tackle to tackle and make cuts inside."

The Rebels (1-3, 1-0) were effective pounding the ball on the inside, but they were even more potent in open space. Phillips broke two runs of more than 20 yards and Bender had a 49-yard romp during the opening drive of the second half.

"Coach (Jeff) Shank said it on the bus ride (to Brunswick), we have five backs that can start," Kellick said. "All five run the ball hard and and do what they have to do."

Complementing Bender and Phillips were Brock Jamison (31 yards, touchdown), Alan Mahan (27 yards) and Zeke Ricketts (16 yards).

Ricketts also threw a 68-yard touchdown pass that sparked South to its first score. Trailing 6-0, Ricketts took a reverse from Phillips, rolled to his right and found Pat Mertz wide open down the right sideline. The play came after two penalties put the Rebels in a third-and-24 situation from their own 32-yard line.

"Zeke is a player that we know we have to get the ball to," Kellick said. "We know he can make that throw and that Mertz can get open and make a catch. In the situation we were in, it worked."

"It was a play we planned in practice this week," Mertz said. "We saw the defensive reads and we thought we could pull it off."

Mertz added a 30-yard reception on a scoring drive just before halftime. Leading 14-12, South set up at its own 25 with about 3 minutes left in the first half. Phillips broke a 22-yard run to start the drive, and two plays later, Jason Waybright hit Mertz down the right sideline. On the next play, Bender ducked under a Brunswick defender and spurted forward 12 yards to give the Rebels a 21-12 advantage.

South took a commanding lead after the opening drive of the second half. The Rebels needed only four plays to go 65 yards - 49 by Bender. Phillips capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, boosted by a Mertz block at the goal line.

"We said at halftime that we wanted to beat them at their own game and run the ball," Kellick said. "We just wanted to run off some time and stop them. But instead of using 6, 7 or 8 minutes, we scored right away. That kind of thing worries me."

But the 28-12 lead was plenty for the Rebels' defense, which has been the strength of the team this season. South kept the Railroaders off the scoreboard for the final 33 minutes, forced two turnovers and came up with two second-half sacks of Brunswick quarterback Nathan Smith.

Brandon Bowens carried 14 times for 115 yards and a touchdown and Grant Wilson added 99 yards and a score for Brunswick (2-2, 0-1).

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