By Derrick Davis
Special to the times
A stifling defense and long drives propelled the Turner County Rebels to a 35-8 victory over the Berrien County Rebels on Friday night at Raymond Jones Memorial Stadium.
Turner ran 33 plays in the first half to Berrien’s 15 to wear out Berrien’s defense in a dominating effort. The Turner County Rebels’ run game, and great quarterback play, kept Berrien off the field and out of rhythm for the entire game.
“Defensively, not a bad job in the first half, really,” said first-year Berrien head coach Rob Armstrong. “I would guess they had 60-65 snaps and that’s not our deal. We have got to run 60-65 plays because most people we play are going to be a little faster than us, and we have to keep them off the field. We need to be up a score or tied, a one score ball game. That is just not our game.”
After a Berrien three-and-out to begin the game, Turner County got the ball inside of their 10-yard line. Fifteen plays and 90 yards later, Turner took an early 6-0 lead, after a failed 2-point conversion, on a 13-yard touchdown run.
Turner County was able to score again before the end of the first half after another long methodical drive. This time, a 10-play drive ended with another touchdown on a pass from Luke Soliday, coming on a third and goal with 38 seconds remaining in the half.
At the end of the first half, Turner County had limited the opposing Rebels to just 19 total yards, all coming on the ground.
“They did a great job,” said Armstrong of Turner County. “They were real sound, did a good job containing us on the outside. The last couple of weeks we’ve been real effective with our outside stuff and they did a good job with that. They tackle real well and they had a good plan. You have to give them credit. They took away what we do best.”
The second half started out just as rough for Berrien. On the first play of the half, tailback Devonte Bass took a hand-off from Shawn Witt and fumbled the ball. Turner County’s Quan Williams scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown.
Williams recorded three turnovers on the night, intercepting two of Witt’s passes.
Turner was able to put the finishing touches on the game midway through the fourth quarter. Soliday dropped back and threw a pass deep down the right hash. The receiver carried four Berrien defenders the final five yards into the end zone.
Berrien managed to get on the board late in the game, coming on the Rebels’ best drive of the game. Berrien received the ball on their own 14-yard line and was able to drive the ball 86 yards for the score that came with 38 seconds remaining.
“I just told them after it was over that I was proud of the way we finished,” Armstrong said. “We got some things going there late and put it together. Mainly it’s execution, we gotta block better.”
After a bye week next Friday, Berrien will face Early County in its Region 1-AA opener.