Tigers repel Rebels in final regular season home win
The Greenville Tigers had a target on their backs as the hungry Rehobeth team invaded Tiger Stadium in search a playoff bid, but a stalwart defense held the Rebels at bay to win 42-13.
But it was the Tigers who misfired first on the second play from scrimmage as an errant ball was picked off by Rebel middle linebacker Colton Long at midfield.
The first of many three-and-outs from the Rebels eased the pain until Greenville running back Dequarius Peterson was stripped, with the ball landing perfectly in Rehobeth cornerback Drew Brown’s hands at the Rebels’ 12-yard line.
Another three-and out gave the Tigers the ball back at midfield, but punt returner Skilar Moorer found daylight down the sideline to take the ball 40 yards to the 10.
Four downs later, Peterson trudged through a cavernous hole for the Tigers’ first score with 2:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Greenville head football coach Josh McLendon was pleased with the score, but not thrilled with the Tigers’ error-filled start.
“We were very flat coming out—just awful,” McLendon said.
“I don’t know if it was a letdown from last week or what, but we weren’t locked in mentally. There was no intensity, and there was no excitement. We’ve just got to do a better job of that.”
It was a critique that the Tigers corrected as the game wore on, and the Greenville offense wore down an exhausted Rebels defense.
Greenville quarterback Brandon Simmons made up the intensity deficiency by meeting defenders head-on—and often winning the exchange—on a series of quarterback keepers.
A one-two punch of Simmons and Peterson earned the Tigers their second score of the night at the top of the second.
“We’ve been preaching all year for (Brandon) to run the football, and take what the defense gives him,” McLendon said.
“The quarterback run was there, so I’m proud of him for doing that. He’s gaining more confidence each game; we want to be balanced on offense, and I thought we were for the most part.”
The Tigers’ offense would also find success in the air, though receiver Jonathan Powell’s first touchdown catch was erased due to a holding penalty. A rare Antonio Alvarez field goal miss left the Tigers scoreless on their third red zone visit, but Powell found redemption on a 23-yard screen pass for a touchdown.
The nail in the coffin, however, came at the top of the second half when linebacker Ja’Quan Smith broke on a telegraphed pass for a pick-six and a 28-0 lead.
Despite a pair of Rehobeth scores near the game’s end, it wasn’t enough to overcome the insurmountable deficit.
McLendon said that the Tigers are looking to eliminate the lethargic start against the much-improved Hillcrest-Evergreen Jaguars Friday.
“They’ve got a lot of athletes—they’ve always had athletes,” McLendon said.
“We’ve got to come out ready to go and ready to play every night, and you just mentally have to be there. Every week, somebody’s trying to knock you off.”
The Tigers travel to Evergreen to face the Jaguars Friday, with a kickoff set for 7 p.m.