Last week it was hard to pinpoint which play was the most important for Reeltown in its second-round playoff victory. This week, it’s nearly impossible to pick just one player who stood out for the Rebels as they downed G.W. Long, 41-22, in the AHSAA Class 2A football quarterfinals.
Reeltown totaled more than 500 yards of offense and, aside from the final two drives of the game, held Long to just 158 en route to the victory.
“I felt like we got a little complacent there at the end,” Reeltown coach Matt Johnson said. “I always tell the guys, ‘You gotta play every single play like we’re down 1-0 in the fourth.’ But other than that, I’m tickled. It was definitely our most complete game.”
It seemed like Reeltown (12-1) was going to have trouble running the ball early on as Long had an answer for leading rusher Cameron Faison. But the Rebels proved they could just as easily go to their passing attack.
When Iverson Hooks found Eric Shaw for a 36-yard pass to set up the Rebels’ first touchdown, which was a 1-yard run by Tre Tre Hughley two plays later, everything opened up for Reeltown.
“That was really important,” Hooks said. “I feel like I got the best receivers in 2A on either end. Then the defense came out and got big stops. I love our receivers to death and our running backs are doing their jobs as well.”
G.W. Long (10-3) didn’t look like it was going to make Reeltown’s job easy though. Long immediately punched back, sustaining a long drive and eventually punching in a 4-yard run from Trevor Morris.
“They just get so many people to the point of attack,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to line up against it and still get more people to it. They’re tough.”
Long actually took a lead as it had previously blocked an extra point on Reeltown’s first touchdown.
But from then on, Long couldn’t even attempt to stop the Rebels’ rushing attack or overcome their defense.
After a miscue from the Rebels, during which Morris picked up a fumble and returned it to the Reeltown 8, the Rebels answered with a strong goal-line stand. Hughley had a huge 4-yard tackle for a loss to push Long back and it couldn’t respond after that.
Then Faison took over. He finished with 193 rushing yards and much of that momentum was helped along by a 70-yard touchdown run to give Reeltown back the lead. Logan Hunt found Shaw for a perfectly placed two-point conversion.
But Long punched right back, sustaining a 13-play drive that ended in a field goal. But Reeltown managed to secure its first double-digit lead when Hooks finished off a late drive with only 31 seconds left in the half by rushing in from 10 yards out.
“Coach always tell us, ‘Don’t ever go out there and start slow,’” Hooks said. “We started slow against Ranburne and lost and ever since then, we never want to feel the loss again. Every day we come out here and work on our two-minute offense, working on getting in the huddle fast and getting the plays out.”
The second half was all Reeltown until the final six minutes of the game. Scooter Brooks scored from 19 yards out, Hooks found Faison for a 9-yard score and Faison danced in for a 50-yard touchdown, as the Rebels piled it on G.W. Long.
“We were a little more balanced (Friday night) and we had to be balanced otherwise they would start packing the box,” Johnson said. “But once we ran them a little bit, we wore on them some. I don’t think we got in anything other than the wishbone the whole second half and ran basically two plays.”
It was the recipe for victory though as Reeltown methodically moved the ball and managed the clock well despite giving up two late scores — both by Long’s Dillon Caraway.
Reeltown now advances to the quarterfinals and will host Leroy (11-2), which was a 35-24 victor over Ariton next week.