BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Crestview Rebels are known for their high-scoring offense. In Friday nights Division V, Region 15 playoff game at Boardman, it was the Rebels defense that flexed it’s muscle in downing the LaBrae Vikings 27-7.
The Rebels defense bottled up the Vikings highly recruited running back Keevon Harris to only 78 yards on 19 carries. The Vikings would amass only 184 total yards on the night. In contrast, the Rebels surrendered 36 points and 373 yards in a 56-36 win last week over Berkshire in a first round playoff game.
“Guys really worked their tails off at practice,” Rebels Coach Paul Cusick said. “We watched a lot of film and really took it to heart that we need to get better on defense. They did a great job of executing the game plan.”
“We basically just got back to the basics and said that we just need to get better and worry about what we do,” Cusick added. The biggest thing I think is that we tackled really well this week, and when we did tackle we were physical.”
With a strong wind blowing across the Spartan Stadium surface, it made it extremely difficult for either team to be able to pass on the night. Labrae would only complete 3 of 20 passes for 21 yards while the Rebels were 0 of 4.
But it was the Rebels running game that proved to be the stronger force as they ground out 263 yards with Zack Hicks scoring 3 of the Rebels 4 touchdowns. His first came with just 25-seconds remaining in the first quarter. That drive was set up by a Vikings fumble on a punt at their own 19-yard line.
“I didn’t even know we had the turnover,” Cusick admitted. “I really didn’t even see it. We made some plays in the special teams and we were able to get a turnover and that is key in these kind of games. Little things can really turn the tide.”
But the Vikings would answer the Rebels score two possession later when wide out Arjay Oliver raced around right end 67-yards for a touchdown with 9:07 remaining in the second quarter.
“We talked all week that they have some players that are going to make some plays. Fortunately we really only gave them te one big play,” Cusick remarked.
But the Rebels would close the first half of the contest with an impressive 91-yard, 13-play drive with Hicks scoring his second touchdown on the night. This time it was a 1-yard plunge to give the Rebels a 14-7 halftime advantage.
“Our line is huge and they are strong up front. We’re able to move he defensive line and get into the secondary and move the linebackers,” Hicks said about his offensive line.
The Rebels would essentially salt the game away on their first possession of the second half when they drove 65-yards to score again. This time it was a 33-yard run by Hicks to make it 21-7 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
They would add a Spencer DeSalvo 6-yard run with just 4:09 left in the game following a Vikings fumble at their own 16-yard line. That touchdown provided the final 27-7 score.
“This is something I’ve never experience before,” Rebels senior running back Tyler Stratton explained after the win. “To continue moving on with my team mates, I mean were just a family, we have bonded together. This moment for us is just overwhelming.
COURTESY: Lowell Spencer – ITCLFootball.net
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