South quarterback Ethan Ward wears No. 3. He was a one-man rushing crew, running for 135 yards and two touchdowns to stake the Rebels to a 35-0 halftime lead, and South went on to a 56-6 win over Volunteer at Carl Matherly Stadium.
Ward ended the night with three touchdown passes to lead the Rebels (1-1).
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“Our line did a fantastic job all night,” Ward said. “Our backs spread hard on the receivers very well. When you have an offensive line that controls the line like that, that means the team will be successful in the game.
“They did it tonight and we were successful.”
Ward has picked up the pace after suffering a broken leg at Cherokee last year.
“It feels good to get back out here. Being able to play with these guys and put in the work during the bad times; we’re reaping the benefits of the work during those bad times. It’s good to see that hard work pay off. It’s fantastic,” he added.
The victory was a sweet first win for first-year Rebels coach Justin Hilton.
“It was exciting. Our guys got out there and played hard,” Hilton said. “I’m proud and happy for them. It sure doesn’t hurt anything to have Ward as our quarterback. He’s like another coach out there on the field.
“Defensively, we’re going to have to shore a few things up. Offensively, I thought we were clicking tonight. We made a few mistakes early, but we’ve got to clean that stuff up. Overall, I'm just proud of the excitement these kids bring every day to practice. They understand what it means to be a Rebel.”
The Rebels didn’t take long to get going, scoring just 1:54 into the game when Ward dented the end zone from 17 yards away. That score stood until Ward found the end zone again with 10:36 left in the half, capping a 10-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown jaunt and a 14-0 lead.
From there, the South offense scored at will. Julian Reed scored on a 20-yard run for a 21-0 lead with 9:29 left in the half after Mick Drumwright recovered a Falcons fumble to set up shop.
Mason Armstrong was on the receiving end of a Ward pass, this time on a 15-yard reception with 3:39 left. A Riley Grills fumble recovery set up the Rebels again with 43 seconds left, and Gavin Parker caught a 13-yard pass from Ward for a 35-0 lead.
In the second half that featured a running clock, South’s Austin Monds caught a Ward pass and raced 38 yards for another score. Monds had another highlight when he scored on a 99-yard pick-6 of Volunteer quarterback Eli Dorton with 1:25 left in the third.
Andrew Morelock rounded out the Rebels’ scoring with a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth.
South kicker Lyric Schmidt was perfect on all eight extra-point attempts.
Volunteer’s only score came with 6:34 left when Dorton found the end zone from a yard out.
The Falcons committed three turnovers that led to South scores.
“We just need to come out and play better to start with,” Volunteer coach Barry Jones said. “We’ve got to put in the preparation on both sides of the ball.”