Rebels debut large in Three Rivers jamboree

George Thwaites • Aug 16, 2013 at 11:53 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Sullivan South kept its game plan simple for Friday night’s Three Rivers Conference Jamboree at Dave Rider Field.

Some of the Elizabethton fans in the stands looked simply stunned.

The Rebels scored on their first play from scrimmage en route to prevailing 21-7 after one quarter on the field with the defending conference champs.

South quarterback Dylan Wieger hit wide out Will Blair, who scooted untouched through the secondary for a 70-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

The Cyclones were caught flat-footed.

“We wanted to get after it early. The line blocked good enough and we ran a great route and Will showed some speed that I don’t think I’ve ever seen,” said Wieger, who completed 5 of 8 pass attempts for 150 yards and two scoring strikes over the short span.

The Rebels signal caller capped his contribution to the jamboree with a 10-yard TD toss to Christian Comsa in the corner of the end zone, putting South up 20-0 with 5:59 remaining in the scrimmage.

“That was a good pass by Dylan Wieger. We practice that route every day trying to get better. Just throwing the ball out there and letting me go get it,” said Comsa, who was called “Cosmo” at one point by the Cyclones’ otherwise outstanding announcer.

In-between, Elizabethton saw its first offensive possession stopped by linebacker Jacob Strickler’s heads-up pick of a Caleb Bailey pass.

“It was real fun playing tonight. We all went out and showed a lot of intensity and played as a team,” said Strickler, who moments earlier in that defensive series pulled Bailey down for a tackle-for-loss.

The Rebels took it at the ‘Betsy 35-yard line. Seven snaps and an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Elizabethton later, Strickler took the handoff from Wieger and trucked it 10 yards to score with 8:22 on the clock.

“People have different opinions on jamborees. The first time under the lights, I like to see us go out there and play fast. For a quarter, I was pleased with our effort,” said South coach Sam Haynie, who got two successful PAT kicks from Luke Wood and another from Brad Burdine.

The Cyclones offense finally put together a solid series with Caleb Armstrong taking the snaps. Armstrong’s 50-yard connection to wide out Markus Olds on a deep route shortened the field, setting up Armstrong’s 2-yard TD plunge with 3:08 showing.

“When you come out to play, you have to be ready to play from the get-go, you can’t ease into it, said Elizabethon coach Shawn Witten, whose team won’t see the Rebels again until they travel to South on Nov. 1.

“We’ve got to take care of what we do and it’s about us getting better,” said Witten, who got 17 yards in four carries from star running back Ethan Thomas.

In the jamboree opener, Happy Valley showed off a pair of power running backs to prevail 13-7 over Sullivan North, which stuck to an opaque game plan.

Warriors junior RB Phillip Garland carried five times for 28 yards, including a 7-yard scoring run with 7:09 on the clock.

Happy Valley got five carries for 35 yards from freshman Dylan Townsend, including a 4-yard TD crash.

The Golden Raiders’ Jacob Jasper had only had one carry for five yards Kody Goins had only two for three, ending the first possession with a fumble and a loss of two yards.

The bright spot for North was a 53-yard scoring scramble by Seth Maxwell, a split end who’ll fill in at wingback in the upcoming Seymour game. Jasper has to sit out the opener due to his ejection from North’s final game of the 2012 season.

“We don’t put too much stock in jamborees, to tell you the truth,” said Raiders coach Robbie Norris. “I think we’re 1-6 for jamborees over the last seven years.”

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