The Tallassee football team turned back the clock and welcomed back the Class of 2000 for a larger than life homecoming victory over Class 5A Region 2 foe Rehobeth, 21-6, on Friday night.
“It’s a big win for us. This senior class has never lost a homecoming,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “We’ve got the 2000 class back in town. They were 13-1 and set the benchmark. We wanted to make sure they knew we were still playing football around here in Tallassee. It was a great game; a great win.”
Taking the field after a 34-12 loss to Valley the week prior, the Tigers (3-3, 2-2) seemed to have the blueprint to victory, forgoing the passing game and relying on their stable of workhorses to stymie the Rebel march in the first quarter.
After forcing a Rehobeth (5-2, 3-2) punt on its first drive, Tallassee brought the hometown faithful to life on the first play of the game. Jalyn Daniels took the snap and bullied his way through a Rebel defense that, through the first six games of the season, proved to be as tight as a choker necklace for a gain of 33 yards.
“We came out flat,” Rebels coach Donny Gillilan said. “We didn’t play with a lot of intensity. It was a long bus ride for us and we just didn’t play with any emotion. I’ve been pleased with the way our season has gone so far, but tonight, we just weren‘t able to get anything going.”
Daniels finished the night with 74 yards rushing. A handful of plays later, Zavion Carr moved the ball to the 10 then Tavarious “Truck” Griffin finished the drive with a 10-yard run into the end zone. Out of the shotgun, Griffin took the snap, bounced off a blocker then stiff-armed a Rebel defender to the ground en route to the touchdown with 5:41 left to go in the opening stanza.
Carr finished the night with 59 yards rushing. Griffin posted 135 yards.
“We played good (Friday night),” Carr said. “We made a few mistakes but we were able to come back and make up for them.”
Clay Johnson added the point after and the Tigers pushed ahead 7-0. Johnson finished the night perfect on point-after tries.
Rehobeth’s rebuttal to the Tiger touchdown fell short as quarterback Jay Trawick was sacked on a fourth-down scramble.
The Tigers took over at their own 26 and quickly moved the ball down the field thanks to a 31-yard Griffin run then a pair of Daniels’ runs for a combined 38 yards.
On first down, Tyler Ellis capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Griffin. Coming out of a timeout, the Tigers dialed up a slant and Griffin’s first step to the inside was all it took to beat the defender to the end zone and catch the perfectly timed pass.
Tallassee turned up the defensive pressure and led 14-0 at halftime.
Through the first three quarters, the Rebels offensive output seemed to come in fits and stops. But that changed in the fourth quarter. Aided by a facemask call on top of a run by Chris Hovey (57 yards on the night), Rehobeth moved into the red zone for the first time.
The Rebels marched to the Tallassee 15 then inside the 5 thanks to a long run by Treshaun Turner on a reverse. The Rebels finally punched through the Tallassee defense on a fourth and goal from the 2 for their only score of the night. On fourth and goal, Hovey fell in behind his blockers and stretched the ball over the goal line.
“He’s been a tough kid for us for a couple of years,” said Gillilan. “He’s got that warriors instinct. He goes hard and he’s a great kid.”
The Rebels attempted to convert the two points, but Trawick’s pass was broken up.
That score proved to be the only fourth down they converted as Tallassee turned them away four times.
“That was a total team effort,” Battles said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and the points were going to be at a minimum. So, when we had the opportunities, we had to take advantage of them. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times on penalties. But when it came down to it, our offense drove and we were able to put the final nail in the coffin.”
Late the final period, the Rebels pounced on a Tigers fumble to take over possession.
Their offensive outing proved to be as futile as a pair of jeans with no pockets and saw it stalled on a reverse attempt that was stuffed by Griffin and an errant pass.
“Our defense stepped up and next week we’ve got to come back and do it again,” Carr said.
Tallassee took over at their own 27 and moved the ball across midfield to the 36.
On back-to-back carries, Griffin drove the final nail into the coffin, scoring from 31 yards out.
“That was huge,” Carr said. “Truck is a big and imposing guy and he did a great job on that run.”