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Bulldogs fall to Rebels in a late-game thriller, 35-31

BY NIC MILLER
STAR CORRESPONDENT

GREENEVILLE – It was a battle of two unbeaten teams Friday night on Rebel Hill at South Greene High School as the unblemished Hampton Bulldogs came to town to square off for the one seed in the playoffs against the undefeated South Greene Rebels.

It was the visiting Bulldogs that would receive possession of the ball first, and Hampton would start off strong, marching down the field into enemy territory where Conor Jones would use his speed to scamper across the goal line from thirty yards out, followed by a Michael Harrison extra point to give their team the early lead, 7-0.

On the Rebels’ inaugural drive, Hampton’s defense would come out and stuff South Greene’s attempt to even the score, allowing only one first down before forcing the punt.

Minutes later, with seconds remaining in the first, the Rebels’ Luke Myers would make his own trip to the goal line from thirty-four yards out to knot thing up at 7-7 after the first quarter of play.

In the second quarter, after pinning them at the one with a deep punt, the Bulldogs would capitalize off of the field position with a Rebels penalty in the end that would cause a safety giving Hampton a 9-7 lead.

But it wouldn’t stop there as Jones would use the air attack on the ensuing drive to find Morgan Lyons from thirty yards out for the touchdown followed by another rush by Jones on the conversion to give the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead with four minutes remaining in the half.

South Greene would come out in the second half shifting the momentum as on the opening kick of the half, a pitch gave Jaylen Ingram enough room to take off down the field and go the distance, evening the score 17-14.

But the ‘Dogs would retaliate after a big third-down run from Jones inside the red zone would set up an easy quarterback sneak play by the Hampton athlete followed by another Harrison extra point would widen the Hampton lead, 24-14.

The Rebels would make things interesting once again when Myers would find his target Corey Houser from thirty-nine yards out to set the score at 24-21 in favor of the Bulldogs nearing the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter would start with the same excitement as the first three as with only ten minutes left in the game, Lyons would get involved with the ground game taking a toss around the outside and diving in for the Bulldog touchdown.

After the Harrison point after, the score would be 31-21 in favor of Hampton.

Just when it looked like the Rebels would answer once more, a fumble inside the five would be recovered by the Bulldogs’ Blake Peavy to give Hampton a chance to seal the game.

But after a forced punt, the Rebels would yet again shorten the deficit with a thirty-yard bomb from Myers to Preston Bailey to make things interesting with two minutes to go, 31-28.

And in a huge turn of events, Myers would punch it in once more with half a minute left in the ball game giving the Rebels the lead late, 35-31.

While doing all they could with the time they had, the Bulldogs would come up just short in this one falling to the Rebels 35-31.

Hampton will look to bounce back next week as they will travel to Hawkins County to take on the Volunteer Falcons after the Unaka Rangers had to cancel due to COVID concerns and the Bulldogs were able to get a commitment from the Falcons for the contest.