The Long County Blue Tide football team and their quest to “Play 11” under new first-year head coach Mike Pfiester kicked off Friday night. However, it did not get started the way they would have liked after dropping their season opening game on the road against the Berrien Rebels by a score of 34-6.
The Rebels opened the game with the ball at their own 35 and went to work. Their first drive of the game was paced by a lot of run-pass-option plays with the run game dominating. However, it was a deep pass down their sideline that kept the drive alive on a second down and long.
Quarterback Justin Cribb looked down his own sideline and found a wide open Josiah Davis, who likely would have scored had he not stepped out of bounds. The Rebels settled for a 33-yard gain that excited the home crowd.
A big run by De’mar Riley and a pass to Whit Shepard set them up inside the 10-yard line as they ticked more and more time off the clock. Two plays later, Riley capped off the near five-minute drive to give them a 6-0 lead after the missed extra point.
The Tide offense took the field at their own 17 after a penalty on the kickoff return. They could only muster four yards and had to punt, but the kick was shanked out of bounds as the Rebels set up shop at the Tide 21 with a very short field to work with.
They wasted little time getting back on the board as just a few plays later they were back inside the 10. Gavin Woods came in at quarterback and he kept the ball on a read option and found his way into the endzone to give the home team a 12-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
The Blue Tide took the field on offense once again and put together a great drive across the 50. They eventually drove to the Berrien 35, but were faced with a fourth down and five.
Not wanting to give the Rebels anymore momentum, they decided to punt and Steven Wyatt’s kick rolled down to the Berrien six.
The Rebels continued to make big plays as Cribb found receiver Elijah Denson open down his sideline for a big 21 yard gain to the 50. Three plays later, Riley got the handoff and went to work, finding room around the left side and racing 39 yards for the score as the two-point conversion made the score 20-0 with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Tide sophomore running back Ahmari Douglas finally got going on the ground as their offense took over from the 28. Douglas broke a few tackles on his first run, gaining 11 yards to the 39.
Then, faced with a third and short from the 45, it was the Tide’s turn to get a big play. Douglas took the hand off up the middle and raced 40 yards to the Rebels 15 and it looked like the Tide would close the gap before halftime.
The Tide drove down inside the 10, but were not able to turn their big drive into points. They were faced with a fourth down and ran the clock down inside 15 seconds before turning the ball back over to the Rebels on downs.
It seemed as though the Rebels would be satisfied with a three-score lead, but Riley had something to say about that. He found room on the left and raced almost 80 yards before being brought down at the 12 with two seconds left.
An incomplete pass brought the half to an end, but the Rebels certainly had all the momentum on their side with a 20-0 lead.
Memories of last year’s season opener quickly flooded back to the Blue Tide as many remembered the Tide led the Rebels 21-0 at the half before failing to score in the second and losing 41-21.
The Tide opened the second half with the ball at their own 28 and eventually had to punt after three plays. However, the snap was short and it turned into an inadvertent fake punt, allowing the Tide’s drive to continue.
The Tide drove down to the Rebels 48 but had to go for it on fourth down. They did not pick it up as the Rebels took over from there.
The Rebels’ first drive went about as bad as it could have, but it was certainly a good thing for the Tide. A false start and short run led to a second down and long before a big sack by sophomore Christian Jones led to a third and 20.
The Rebels punted down to the Tide 12 and the Tide went three and out again. A short snap once again led to an accidental fake punt as the Tide were able to pick up the first down at the 25.
Douglas got the call again, finding room up the middle and zipping up the 50 before being dragged down. However, the next play was where the Tide’s drive came to an end as the ball was ripped out of Douglas’s hands and recovered by the Rebels at midfield.
The Rebels picked up 16, 21, and 13 yards on the next three plays to find the endzone and increase their lead to 26-0 with four seconds left on the clock in the third quarter.
The Tide finally got on the board on the final play of the quarter as Douglas did work on the ensuing kickoff. He fielded the ball at the 20, got a great block from Wyatt and was off to the races to make the score 26-6 going into the final quarter of the game.
The Tide attempted an onside kick and it bounced off a Rebel player, but the Tide just barely missed recovering as the Rebels took over from their own 45.
They went right back to work and drove down to the Tide 20 before a Tide timeout with just over eight minutes left in the game. The Rebels put the final nail in the coffin as they found their way into the endzone to make the score 34-6, the eventual final.
The Tide fell to 0-1 on the year and will look to rebound against the Bacon County Raiders next Friday, August 27 in their first home game of the year. The Raiders dropped their first game of the year 34-14 to Atkinson County.