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Rebels roll through CCH on home turf

Posted on October 4, 2023 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After a scary end to last week’s game, the W.R. Myers Rebels found themselves back at home this past weekend. With a matchup against the Catholic Central Cougars, the Rebels were looking to once again add another win to their season. 

“That was certainly an interesting game. There were multiple lead changes, some wacky plays, and in the end, a late-game comeback to win. CCH has some incredibly talented players, and we figured going in that they were the type to capitalize on any mistake. Boy were we right in that estimation,” explained head coach Jason Jensen. 

While the offensive unit has rightly gotten plenty of positivity to shine this season, the Rebels’ defence has been rock-sold week after week. With CCH getting the ball to start, the Rebels’ defence was once again put up against a tough offence. 

“The Cougars won the coin toss, and elected to receive, but our defence held them to a two and out. Our offence took over, and we strung together a nine-play drive, with Kade Hansen snagging a four-yard pass to put us up 6-0. It was nice to get on the board first, but there was no time to sit back, as after exchanging possessions, they connected on a touchdown pass of their own to take the lead 7-6,” added Jensen. 

The second quarter was more back-and-forth play between the two combatants. With both sides looking to take a lead into the break, the teams saw plenty of opportunities.

“As we flipped from the first to second quarter, it looked like we were going to answer back. We went on an eight-play drive, all the way to the CCH 10-yard like before one of the wackier plays I’ve ever seen happened. A Cougars defensive lineman managed to get a hand up and bat a pass backwards, where CCH’s best player, Noah Kinniburgh, hauled it in, and was off to the races, taking it 100 yards the other way for a touchdown, making it 14-6 Cougars,” added Jensen. “Now, that kind of play can be back-breaking, but thankfully my Rebels had a ton of fight left in them. Both teams exchanged drives from there, with neither able to score, until late in the quarter.”

Thanks to a beautiful defensive play, the Rebels were able to not only top a late score by CCH, but also add some points to their total. 

“The Cougars were nearing midfield, trying to get a late score on the last play of the half, and presumably put a nail in our coffin. However, linebacker Elias Cooper read the play, picked the ball off, and took it 55 yards to score. Being down 14-12 at this point, we elected to go for two points, and Hansen again came up big in the endzone, sending into halftime all tied up,” stated Jensen. “That last play of the half was a game-changing moment — any bit of doubt our players had was erased, and we could tell the boys seemed renewed, and ready to fight.” 

Thanks to that late first-half play, the Rebels had a noticeable boost heading into the third quarter. The offence was fired up to start the second half and the Rebels were able to strike first.

“We came out in the second half with a huge kick return by runningback John Van Uden to set up a 12-play scoring drive, capped with a touchdown run by slotback Carson Becker,” continued Jensen. “Unfortunately for us, the Cougars hadn’t quite quit yet either, as they answered right back with a long touchdown run by Kinniburgh to tie the game at 21 apiece with 4:25 to go in the third quarter. A few minutes later, CCH managed to find another gap, and suddenly we were down 21-28 at the end of the third quarter.”

With another deficit to overcome, the Rebels were in for a hectic fourth quarter if they wanted to get the win. 

“It was now gut-check time for us. We could quit here, or we could come back swinging. Thankfully these boys chose the latter,” explained Jensen. “Runningback Bryden O’Connor finished a five-play drive with a one-yardd touchdown. Unfortunately, a missed extra point meant that we were still down 27-28. The Cougars kept coming, throwing everything they had at us, including a fake punt attempt that my defence was able to sniff out and stuff. A late blocked punt gave CCH the ball deep in our end, setting up a make-or-break moment for our defence.”

With their backs against the wall, the Rebels’ defence had a chance for a signature early season moment for the 2023-24 team. And thanks to some strong play, the Rebels were able to hold off the Cougars from reaching the endzone.

“The Rebels defence showed their resolve though, holding the Cougars to a field goal, making it 31-17, with 4:30 to go in the game. From there, our offence went back to work, driving down the field, while simultaneously grinding out the clock, before Van Uden dove into the endzone, putting us back in the lead,” added Jensen. “Another successful two-point attempt widened the Rebels’ lead to 35-31. The determination in our boys was very apparent, as two plays later Cooper snuffed out any hope of a Cougars comeback with another interception, downing the ball at the CCH 15-yard line. Two plays later Van Uden found the endzone for his second major of the day, and also ran in a two-point conversion to round out the scoring at 43-31.”

Both offence and defence were stellar for the Rebels. In the back-and-forth bout, the home team was once again able to prevail due to some great performances from its players.

“That was a crazy game to be a part of, and from all accounts, to have watched. For me, the biggest takeaway was the resolve I saw in these boys when they were down on the scoreboard,” said Jensen. “Those are the points where some teams quit, and some reach down deeper, and find something extra to get the job done. I’m proud as all hell at how these boys responded, and we’re going to need that resolve as we go down the stretch.”

The Rebels don’t have long to celebrate the come-from-behind victory though. The team is back on the field this Thursday as they hit the road for the first time this season.

“We have a short week coming up, as we play the Willow Creek Cobras on Thursday night in Claresholm. Willow Creek is our biggest rival, and we’ve had some classic tenacious battles with them over the years, I expect no difference this time, especially on their home field. Plus, this will be our first road trip of the season, so that should be interesting. As always, we need to get a good week of practice in, and hopefully, we can take care of business on Thursday night,” added Jensen.

Kick-off goes on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in Claresholm.

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