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Rebels get physical to punish 'Cats

October 21, 2006|by MARK KELLER

The South Hagerstown football team was feeling a bit nostalgic Friday night.

On a night when South celebrated its 50th anniversary, the No. 7 Rebels harkened back to yesteryear with their physical play, pushing Williamsport around on both sides of the ball to take a 26-7 victory in an MVAL Antietam game at School Stadium.

"We got back to playing that old style that we used to play here years ago," South coach Greg Kellick said. "That's the way we wanted to play tonight: Physical and clean. And I think we played that way tonight."

The Rebels (4-3, 4-0) won their fourth straight game and held their own in the "last man standing" fight for first place in the conference.

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South remains tied with Catoctin atop the league standings, while North Hagerstown fell a game back with a loss to Boonsboro. The Rebels play at Catoctin next Friday.

South held Williamsport (1-6, 0-4) to three first downs - all in the second quarter - and 97 yards of offense, including just 62 on the ground.

Linebackers John Moser and Zeke Ricketts stormed the line of scrimmage all night, filling the middle and nearly eliminating the Wildcats' inside running game.

Yet, despite those numbers and facts, Williamsport held a 7-6 lead at halftime, thanks in no small part to three straight turnovers by the South offense.

The Wildcats took advantage of the first of those three turnovers - an interception by Andrew Minella - and turned it into points. Minella, who got his first start at quarterback in four games, led Williamsport into South territory with three option keepers.

Then, faced with a third-and-11 situation, Minella dropped back and hit Kyle McDannell in the middle of the field. McDannell broke one tackle and eluded another on his way to a 31-yard touchdown. Jesse Barnes added the point after for a 7-6 lead.

The Rebels continued shooting themselves in the foot before the break. Brock Jamison fumbled the ball away at the Williamsport 10 with just under 3 minutes left and Jason Waybright threw his second interception with just seconds remaining before halftime.

"We were confident at halftime. If they don't score, we win," Williamsport coach Adrian Custer said. "We knew what they were going to do, offensively and defensively. We knew what they were going to run. We just had to stop them."

The Rebels showed that when they hold onto the ball, they can be difficult to stop. They regained the lead on their first possession of the second half, going 65 yards in just four plays, with workhorse running back Tony Bender getting all of the yardage. He finished the drive with a 42-yard run for a touchdown that had enough bobs and weaves to make a boxer proud.

Bender finished with 189 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

"He's so shifty and crafty," Custer said. "I know Coach Kellick continues to give him a lot of credit and he deserves it. He's a nice back."

Two plays into Williamsport's next drive, Casey Carpenter picked off Minella at the Wildcats 29. Jamison punched it in from the 1 five plays later for an 18-7 lead.

"It wasn't a lot of screaming, shouting and yelling at halftime," Kellick said. "They were all just kind of sitting there. You could have heard a pin drop. We were down one when we should have been up, 28-0.

"We knew what we had to do was take care of the ball. We did that in the second half."

South held the Wildcats to 3 yards in the second half and recorded a safety when Minella was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. Alan Mahan added a 4-yard touchdown run to close the scoring.

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