South, up 14-7 at halftime, scored four touchdowns over a seven-minute span of the third quarter to blow open what had been a tight game at Death Valley.
Old-school fullback Nathan Harkleroad had a particularly big time for the Rebels, blasting for four touchdowns, all in battering-ram style.
View Robert Kell’s photos from the game
“East had a good plan and their quarterback threw it well,” South coach Justin Hilton said. “Hats off to them for getting their guys motivated and ready to play.
“You’d think you go in at halftime and yell and all that stuff, but having a veteran group you just go in there and settle them down and tell them that we’re going to go back out there and play our style of ball.”
RUN THE FOOTBALL
With standout runner Julian Reed out a second straight week because of an ankle sprain, South produced a solid run game by committee behind its well-established and veteran offensive line.
Seven South runners combined for 308 yards, quick-footed Damien McClain toting the biggest load at 142 yards on 13 attempts.
It was McClain who wiped out a 7-0 East lead with a 30-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
“We’re just going to run those guys in there and give them an opportunity,” Hilton said.
“They all stepped up and played pretty good, once we got going. We started slow,” the coach added, “but, yeah, our backs ran well.”
And what about his wrecking ball, the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Harkleroad?
“Not many people play a fullback anymore, but he’s a true sawed-off fullback — been a great player in the ’80s. He’s tough, hard-nosed, strong ... good kid,” said Hilton, whose Rebels travel to face unbeaten Elizabethton next week.
Harkleroad, with 61 yards rushing, scored on runs of 19, 12, 15 and 2 yards.
TWO TURNOVERS FUEL THE FIRE
South scored on its opening possession of the second half to assume a 21-7 advantage, and a bad snap on East’s next offensive play resulted in a 19-yard loss and 1-yard scoop and score by Rebels junior Noah Drumwright.
Suddenly up 28-7, the Rebels took advantage of another fumble, this one on a 20-yard backward pass back to the South 2.
Harkleroad punched it in on the next play to provide the final margin, enacting a continuous clock with 4:43 still left in the third period.
The Patriots (0-8, 0-5), who attempt to get in the win column next week at home against Sullivan North, lost starting senior quarterback Dylan White to an elbow injury early in the second quarter.
White had teamed with wideout Blake Scher for a 26-yard touchdown pass to provide East with its early 7-0 lead.
Scher finished with four receptions for 72 yards to pace East offensively.