By Thomas Sellers Jr.
But the last time the Rebels hosted a postseason game was during the George W. Bush administration. So the mission was simple entering Friday night’s game at the Fayette Academy Vikings — win and secure a November game in Rosemark.
The Vikings didn’t receive the memo of allowing TRA to coast to victory. Fayette Academy used a powerful running attack to prevail 57-37.
“If you can’t tackle, that’s the No. 1 thing in football,’ Rebels Head Coach Colin Pinner noted. “Your defense has to be No. 1. And right now we’ve got a lot to evaluate right now as far as defense. Whether that’s kids and their positions or schemes, I don’t know right now. Fifty-seven points is unacceptable. You score 37 points, you expect to win.”
It was clear early on that the contest would be a shootout when Reed Holland scored for the Vikings (4-4, 3-2) at the 6:20 mark on a 12-yard run.
TRA answered 31 seconds later when Carter Weakley took a handoff and used a couple of moves to race up the field for a 53-yard touchdown to deadlock the game at 7-7.
About a minute and half ticked off the Fayette Academy Football Stadium clock when the Vikings scored again to make the tally 14-7.
Holland made the tally 21-7 early in the second quarter with a 9-yard TD run. And Fayette Academy was ahead 28-7 midway through the second period.
TRA tried to stay within shouting distance when Jake Roane reached the end zone on a short run. The Rebels (6-2, 3-2) trailed 28-14 with a minute and 14 seconds remaining in the first half.
There was one more score left in the first half. Fayette Academy dealt TRA a big blow when Holland snatched a quick pass out of the air and was able to exploded up field for an 80-yard touchdown. The Rebels had the final points of the half when Franklin Garner drilled a 28-yard field goal. Fayette Academy was ahead 35-17 at the break.
The beginning of the second half provided the Rebels a chance for another big play. The opening kickoff was received by Howard Gray. The speedster slowly approached the action and seemed to hit another gear about the 20-yard line. Gray was in the house with a touchdown making the score 35-24.
Both teams traded scores the rest of the third quarter with TRA quarterback Donald Crowe scoring on a short run at the 8:29 mark. Crowe’s touchdown was set up by a great one-hand catch by Jake Massey on that drive.
Fayette Academy was ahead 43-30 going into the fourth quarter. The Vikings eventually led 50-30 early in the final quarter when the Rebels drove down the field trying to chip away at the deficit.
Roane scored his second touchdown of the night from 25 yards out with a big run. TRA was behind 50-37 with 7 minutes and 3 seconds left in the game.
The Vikings wanted to eat up the clock to preserve the lead and win the game. Facing a fourth-down and one-yard situation at the 34-yard-line, Fayette Academy gave the ball to offensive line Dawson Wilburn.
Wilburn was a familiar sight to the Rebels by the fourth quarter taking a few handoffs throughout the night. Usually he picked up chunks of yards on his attempts. But on the fourth-down call, Wilburn broke loose for a 56-yard gain to ice the game.
Fayette Academy added the insurance touchdown and dealt the Rebels their second loss of the season. TRA’s unbeaten streak came to an end in late September courtesy of Davidson Academy.
“After the Davidson Academy game, we got our brains beat in,” Pinner noted. “And they came back the next week against Clarksville and played great. To be honest that was the best week of practice we’ve had. Which surprised me.”
Despite defeats to Davidson Academy and Fayette Academy, the Rebels still have a shot at hosting a 2017 playoff game as long as they win one of the two remaining league contest. TRA will travel to Jackson Christian next week and host Nashville Christian Oct. 27.
“I told the kids there in the huddle, you have three weeks of football left guarantee,” Pinner concluded. “We have one playoff game guaranteed. If you are a senior you’ve got to find a way to lock down and block everything out. All the stuff outside of football, you got to block it out. You have to be 100 percent locked in for the next three weeks. If you can’t do that, then you don’t deserve to host a playoff football game.”