Rebels Edge TC in Opener, 24-22
Senior quarterback Griffin Phillips and junior Mark Rucker both rushed for over 150 yards on Friday night against the Ritchie County Rebels, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Rebels edged out the Knights, 24-22, in a game that saw the Knights rack up 362 rushing yards while giving up 349.
Neither team did much with the passing game as Ritchie County connected on 5-7 for 31 yards and Tyler hit on 4-11 attempts for 35 yards. The game started out all Ritchie County as the Silver Knights won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Rebels showed their running game right away as they moved up field on their first series, driving 65 yards and scoring on a 17-yard run by Garrett Owens to grab a 6-0 lead. They then tacked on the two point conversion on a run by Trey Moss to go up 8-0 with 8:48 left on the first quarter clock.
The Silver Knights, however, wasted no time of their own as they hit pay dirt just 11 seconds later when Rucker went in from five yards out. Phillips made the big play to set up the score as he rounded the left end and went 60 yards before being brought down around the two. Rucker also tacked on the conversion run to make it 8-8 with 8:37 still to play in the first.
What looked like a high scoring affair soon turned into a defensive struggle.
However, with 5:54 left before the half, the Rebels put on a drive and scored on a five-yard toss from Gabe Ray to Kayden Procacina; Ray then hit McCoy for the conversion to make it 16-8 Rebels.
The Silver Knights looked to get back in the game quickly and drove the ball up field with Rucker breaking free on a 57-yard jaunt to the two yard line, making it first and 10 with 1:40 to play.
The Knights, however, were unable to push it in on three running tries and on fourth and goal, a pass out in the flat from Phillips to Rucker was batted down, turning the ball over to the Rebels who ran out the clock to take a 16-8 lead into the locker room.
After the break the Silver Knights went right back to business, and with 9:56 on the third quarter clock, Rucker scrambled 17 yards for a score to draw the Knights to within two 16-14, as the conversion run failed. The Knights had trouble on defense all night and couldn’t stop the Rebels’ running game, and just two minutes later the visitors pounded one in from a yard out to go up, 24-14, after the two point conversion pass was complete.
The Silver Knights were not about to give up, and 31 seconds later, Phillips took off on a nice run and hit paydirt from 34 yards out; he then added the two point run, and the score stood at 24-22 with 6:46 left in the game. The Knights had several more opportunities, but the Rebels’ defense came up big, turning them away on each occasion.
The Knights accumulated 10 penalties for 115 yards in the game, compared to Ritchie’s nine for 60 yards. The Knights recovered two Rebel fumbles. Tyler had 12 first downs in the game, compared to the Rebels’ 16, and the Rebels also ran 60 plays, compared to the Knights’ 44. Ritchie led in possession time and had 53 rushing attempts, compared to the Knights’ 33. Failure to stop the run by the Knights kept the ball in the Rebels’ hands and limited the Knights’ opportunities. The Silver Knights will travel to Doddridge for another tough battle Friday night, with kick-off at 7 p.m.