Rebels fall to Southern in championship game
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 19, 2006
The Selma Times-Journal
TROY – Like every team that plays for a championship, the Lowndes Academy Rebels went into Friday night’s matchup against Southern Academy with high hopes.
But those lofty expectations fell gradually as the game wore on.
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Southern (12-1) dominated the game in almost every possible way to win 41-7 and take the AISA Class AA state title at Troy University’s Movie Gallery Stadium.
The 14-point difference at halftime equaled the largest deficit the Rebels have faced all season, the previous coming against South Choctaw. Lowndes eventually came back to win that game.
So naturally, Lowndes went into the locker room thinking about a comeback.
“I wasn’t that worried,” Rebels coach Art Sullivan said. “We had been getting the ball down, we just weren’t able to get it in. I think we got in the red zone three or four times. Basically, their line just whooped our line.”
The Rebels (11-2) had just 27 net rushing yards. That included the minus 48 yards quarterback Drew Harrell had after being being sacked five times.
Southern outgained Lowndes 334-93 in total yardage – 316 of those on the ground – and controlled the ball for more than 30 minutes of the game clock.
Lowndes had to know it was going to be in for a long night by the way the game’s opening possession went.
Southern grinded out a 15-play, 83-yard drive that ate up 10 minutes, 16 seconds of clock.
John Kynard wrapped it up by hitting receiver Jason Fondren for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Rebels faltered in the red zone on their next two possessions.
Matt Ballard sacked Harrell for a 14-yard loss on Lowndes’ very first play. Harrell bounced back and hit Eric St. Cin for a 43-yard pass to put the Rebels at the Southern 30-yard line. Forced to kick, Harrell attempted a 30-yard field goal that missed wide right.
Lowndes recovered a Ballard fumble on the ensuing possession only to give the ball back again.
On third-and-goal from the Southern 10, Chad Milner intercepted a Harrell pass in the end zone for a touchback.
Southern took advantage of the opportunity by scoring on a 25-yard run from Milner with 4:05 left in the half.
Lowndes got on the scoreboard for the first time on its next possession. Harrell capped a 77-yard drive with a 2-yard quarterback sneak.
With just one second left to go in the half, Brandon Montz caught a 26-yard Kynard pass for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
The turning point in the game came during the opening possession of the second half.
Lowndes started on its own 25 and pushed the ball down to the Southern 2. A delay of game call cost the Rebels 5 yards, and on fourth-and-6, they went for it all. Harrell sent a pass to the back of the end zone intended for Robin Hagood, but it was incomplete.
Southern took over and scored the first of 20 unanswered points.
Nathan Bonds punched in a 2-yard score for a 28-7 lead with 3:22 left in the third.
Matt Bouler took away what life was left on the Lowndes side of the field by ripping off a 45-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth.
Bonds added the final blow on a 4-yard run with 7:53 left to play.
Lowndes’ normally reliable running back duo of St. Cin and Trent Pate was held to a combined 58 yards. Harrell was 8-for-20 passing and 141 yards.
Bouler had 175 yards on 20 carries, and Milner had 74 yards on seven carries.
“It really hurts for the seniors,” Sullivan said. “They’ve won close to 30 ball games in three years. I hope one loss isn’t going to ruin their careers. They’ve won more ball games than any other group of seniors that have been here.”