GREENEVILLE — Two huge late defensive stops and a last-minute touchdown kept South Greene’s perfect record intact in a 35-31 instant classic win over Region 1-2A rival Hampton on Friday night on “Rebel Hill.”
The Rebels improved to 9-0 and have a leg up on the 6-1 Bulldogs.
South Greene junior quarterback Luke Myers provided the game-winning score from two yards out with 28.8 seconds left to play.
The Rebel defense — even though it had been gouged all night — stepped up in the biggest spots. It halted the Bulldogs on their final three drives and turned the ball over to the playmakers.
“The defense had a ‘bend don’t break’ mentality all night and getting those two huge stops at the end was a huge deal,” South Greene coach Shawn Jones said. “We knew that if we got the ball back in our playmaker’s hands that we’d have a chance to win.
“We expected Luke to score there. He makes things happen.”
Myers finished off his evening with a pair of rushing and passing touchdowns, going 12-for-21 through the air for 159 and carrying the ball 15 times for 83 yards.
Hampton junior quarterback Conor Jones had a big night as well, tallying two rushing scores and one through the air, but he could not lead his ’Dawgs to victory as he was tackled in-bounds as time expired in South Greene territory.
He finished with 194 rushing yards on 28 carries and was 3-for-6 through the air with 49 yards.
“I honestly couldn’t stand up after that,” Myers said. “I just wanted to sit down and take it all in.
“A lot of credit goes to our senior linebackers and they really stepped up on stopping them late.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Rebels got the ball at their own 28 and drove all the way to Hampton’s 1 before Blake Peavy stripped Myers of the ball.
Hampton got the ball back with under four minutes left to go in the shadow of its own goalposts, but could not get a first down and had to punt.
Myers and company scored five plays later as he hit Preston Bailey over the middle from 31 yards out for the score.
Hampton again had the opportunity to get one or two first downs and run out the clock, but a costly false start penalty on a fourth-and-3 situation when the Bulldogs were lining up to go for it foiled Hampton coach Michael Lunsford’s play call.
“We thought we had them stopped and they called a penalty on Conor when he broke a pass up in the middle of the field that was the turning point in the game,” Lunsford said. “We had them on the ropes up until that point and we gave up too many big plays. We had too many critical mistakes.
“We had a good play called and then we got that false start penalty. That’s just the way things happen.”
Myers got the ball with 1:43 and led his unbeaten squad down the field in six plays for the come-from-behind win.
Hampton was controlling the line of scrimmage like it wanted to from the outset as Morgan Lyons had 68 yards on 15 carries, one rushing score and a touchdown reception.
The Bulldogs had a 17-7 halftime lead
One play that quickly turned the momentum coming out of the halftime break was when Jaylen Ingram returned the kickoff 90 yards for a score and got South Greene back in the game.
“We have to regroup, get better and learn to play without making the critical mistakes,” Lunsford said.
Hampton is on the road next week at non-region foe Volunteer while South Greene has the week off and closes out the regular season at Happy Valley on Oct. 30.