For most of Friday night’s showdown with first-place Highland, South did everything necessary to earn a share of the Southeast Yosemite League title.
The Rebels recovered an onside kick, took advantage of the Scots’ mistakes and controlled the ball with a tough ground attack.
Then it happened: The fourth quarter.
Highland scored four touchdowns during a 7-minute stretch to erase a three-point deficit and pull away for a 41-17 victory over the Rebels.
The victory clinches at least a share of the SEYL title for the Scots (8-1, 4-0), who can win it outright with a victory against East (7-2, 3-1) next week.
Trailing 17-14 entering the final quarter, Highland took the lead for good on an 8-yard scoring run by Dizzy Brown. The play was set up by a 46-yard pass play from AJ Cleveland to Chris Gutierrez on the final play of the third quarter.
After forcing South to punt, Brown busted loose for a 39-yard touchdown run to build the Scots’ lead to 28-17 with 8:44 to play. Brown finished with 97 yards rushing on 10 carries, including 95 yards in the second half.
South (5-4, 2-2) replaced quarterback King Ellis with Manuel Guzman on the following possession, but he was intercepted on his first pass. Nick Salas stepped in front of the pass and sprinted 44 yards for a score to make it 35-14.
Highland capped the scoring with a 16-yard scoring pass from Cleveland to Shabazz Muhammad. The two connected on a 50-yard scoring play in the third quarter that gave the Scots its first lead of the game, 14-10.
Cleveland shook off a slow start and threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 11 of 18 passing. Muhammad had four catches for 121 yards.
The Rebels responded with a 7-play, 68-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard TD run by Daniel Lomax to give South a 17-14 lead with 1:21 left in the quarter.
Lomax had a big first half, rushing for 91 of his game-high 122 yards. Ellis finished with 77 yard rushing on 20 carries, and also threw for 160 yards and a score on 9 of 14 passing.
Things started out great for the Rebels. They recovered an onside to open the game. And after being forced to punt, they recovered a fumble when the punt hit off the back of Gutierrez.
The play gave the Rebels the ball at the Highland 28. Five plays later, South had another bit of good fortune when the ball was hiked over Ellis’ head. But he picked up the ball, rolled to the right and hit Angel Alfered for a 1-yard TD pass to give South an early 7-0 lead.
The Scots responded with a 13-play, 49-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard TD pass from Cleveland to Salas. But South blocked the extra point and still led 7-6 with 3:25 left in the first quarter. It was the first of two blocked PATs for the Rebels.
Lino Bravo made a 34-yard field goal with 4:46 left in the second quarter and South led 10-6 at the half.