ROGERSVILLE — Cherokee's gridiron re-introduction to Sullivan South last season was a real barn-burner.
The Rebels' first football visit to Rogersville since 1998 was more like a barn burning.
Sullivan South generated 456 yards of total offense on its way to a 49-13 win over the Chiefs on Friday night.
The non-conference game was a mutual season opener that dodged the threat of rain delays but not the eventual imposition of a continuous clock.
"We wore down against a very good ballclub. We played tooth and nail the first quarter and a half about as well as we could," said Cherokee coach Mike Sivert, who's fielding the youngest squad he's had over 35 seasons in Rogersville.
The Chiefs, who gave up four interceptions to the Rebels, made it interesting for a little while.
Freshman quarterback J.T. Brooks hit wideout Tyler Mayes with a 38-yard touchdown pass to cut South's lead to 14-7 with 9:41 in the second quarter. Brooks slipped a 41-yard scoring reception to Mayes after the next exchange of possession.
Kicker Matt Seals, who punted four times for an impressive average of 47 yards per punt, missed his second point-after kick. The Chiefs trailed by one, which was as close as they would get.
Rebels running back Blake Christian rushed for 206 yards on nine carries, including a 74-yard scoring scramble with 4:14 remaining in the half that shook the courage of the Chiefs' comeback convictions.
It was Christian's 58-yard run that set up the 3-yard scoring sneak that initiated South's scoring with 7:14 left in the first quarter.
"They kind of jumped on us a little bit at first, and we decided we had to get this going," Christian said. "We just had to get our second wind."
The Rebels scored again with less than a minute remaining before the half on Dylan Wieger's 2-yard TD plunge.
The South quarterback passed for 192 yards, including an 80-yard scoring strike to Evan Headrick for a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Wieger added another TD to his resume in the third quarter when he hit Will Blair for a 61-yard score.
Blair set the continuous clock rolling with his 52-yard interception return for a TD late in the third quarter. It was the first time he's scored on both sides of the football in the same game.
"The coaches got onto us and got us going again," Blair said. "It was really fun."
Blair's pick-6 was preceded by another from teammate Kyle Hosmer, who stunned the Chiefs with his 23-yard scoring return.
Josh Booker had two interceptions for the Rebels, including one that ended Cherokee's first offensive series of the game.
South coach Sam Haynie thought the sudden onset of August heat on Friday had something to do with the Rebels' sluggish early possessions.
Thanks to South's defensive effort, it wasn't a major issue.
"Defense stepped up kind of early and kept us in the game until we kind of got our legs under us a little bit," Haynie said.
"Tonight was a total team effort. Game 1 always has a whole lot of variables and we overcame those."