Stewart County and Harpeth faced off on Friday night in an early game as the schools decided to move kickoff up one hour due to impending weather.
Stewart County used an effective defense and opportunistic offense to take down Harpeth 27-7.
The turnover bug bit Harpeth early as the Rebels recovered Stewart County’s opening kickoff of the game. A short kick allowed the special teams coverage to go down and recover the ball before Harpeth could secure it.
After that, it didn’t take long for Stewart County’s Will Page to get into the end zone on a short quarterback sneak. Stewart County took an early 6-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Stewart County found the end zone once again as Page led the offense back down the field, and the Rebels scored again.
“I thought we came out ready to play and got those two first scores really quickly,” said Stewart County coach Chanz Swartz. “That really helped us get off to a quick start.”
On Harpeth’s next drive, the Indians’ offensive line allowed a quick pressure by the Stewart County defensive front, and they were able to get to the quarterback for a strip sack. The Rebels recovered the fumble, but to Harpeth’s credit, they were able to force a turnover on downs to get possession back.
Harpeth then turned the ball back over on downs after a fake punt as the Indians’ offensive troubles continued. Stewart County’s defensive line had a size advantage, but the speed all over the Stewart County defense was an effective tool all evening for the Rebels.
Stewart County couldn’t do much, though, as they punted the ball back to Harpeth. Deep in their own territory, the Indians didn’t have much of a chance to score with less than two minutes remaining in the half, but they tried.
An interception by the Stewart County defense brought the final Harpeth possession to a halt with 17 seconds remaining. The Stewart County offense threw two deep passes into the end zone, but they both fell to the ground as the half came to a close.
The third quarter featured a new Harpeth offense as the Indians traveled down the field and, after a nice catch by Mason Holley to get the ball to the goal line, senior quarterback Thomas Sloan took a sneak into the end zone to make it a one-possession game. After a successful extra point, Harpeth trailed 13-7.
“We put ourselves behind in the first quarter with a couple of turnovers,” said Harpeth Coach Doug Loope. “We got a score from Thomas Sloan in the third to make it a ballgame, but we couldn’t sustain the momentum. Their quarterback, Page, is a heck of a runner, and he made plays all night.”
The rest of the game, though, belonged to Stewart County. Although the Rebels developed a penalty problem, their defense was strong enough to hold Harpeth at seven points.
“We faced some adversity there in the third quarter, but we were able to get settled down and fix those issues,” Swartz said. “We had a few injuries, but we had some guys step up, and we didn’t miss a beat.”
Stewart County’s Connor Andrews got into the end zone to strengthen the Stewart County lead, and then Will Page had a 52-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to get to the final.
Stewart County will play host to Camden on Friday evening as the Rebels look to improve upon their 5-1 record. Harpeth will travel to Fairview to face its toughest test yet.
“This win secured us a playoff spot, which is always a big deal,” Swartz said. “These guys are going to be ready to come out and get back at it next week.”