PROSPERITY — The Mid-Carolina Rebels fell to the Chapin Eagles 35-32 after leading by 11 at one point in the fourth quarter.
“They laid everything out,” Rebels head coach Louie Alexander said of his team. “We made a couple of mental mistakes and they happened to be late (in the game) but I can’t fault my kids’ effort. They played as hard as they could play.”
Winning the toss, Mid-Carolina elected to play defense and was able to hold the Eagles to minimal gains in their first possession and forced a punt.
The Rebels went three-and-out in their first offensive try and gave it right back to Chapin, which promptly marched down the field for the first score of the game. Following a successful PAT the Eagles led 7-0 with 8:18 in the first.
The Rebels responded by putting together a sustaining drive and making their way deep into Eagle territory before being intercepted in the endzone.
The Rebels, however, grabbed the momentum right back with an interception of their own courtesy of cornerback Damien Gorie.
The Rebels were unable to capitalize on the favorable field position and were again intercepted in the endzone as the first quarter came to a close.
After stopping the Eagles on crucial fourth down, the Rebels managed to finally get on the board after an 80-yard run from Terrell Long set them up in prime scoring position inside the 10.
Chapin answered right back with another touchdown leaving the Rebels trailing 6-14 midway through the second.
Not giving up, Rebels quarterback Corey Stone connected with Jalen Bates-Caldwell on a long bomb and after a successful two-point conversion the game slid into halftime tied at 14-14.
Mid-Carolina opened up the second half with a three-and-out then Chapin marched down the field and into the redzone but the Rebels again intercepted a would-be touchdown pass with 8:30 remaining in the third.
On their next possession the Rebels would take their first lead of the ballgame after a long touchdown pass from Stone found its target.
It was a back and forth shootout the rest of the game with the Rebels managing to increase their lead to 11 following an improvised touchdown pass from Stone preceded by some agile scrambling.
Many Chapin fans began filing out of the stadium but their players hadn’t yet given up hope.
A Mid-Carolina punt was returned for a score and the reenergized Eagles would go onside in last-minute desperation.
Against the odds, Chapin managed to recover the kick and completed a bomb which set them up in scoring position with under two minutes to play.
Despite a valiant Rebel-stand, the Eagles were able to punch it in and convert for two points and the scoreboard read 35-32 with 1:02 left in the game.
Chapin booted their kickoff through the endzone for a touchback, leaving 80 yards between the Rebels and victory.
After the Rebels failed to work the sidelines and get a first down Stone was sacked on a fourth down Hail Mary attempt leaving a packed home-side stunned and deflated.
“The biggest thing is learning how to finish. When you’re up two scores with eight minutes left to go you’ve got to dig deep up front and move some people and eat some clock,” Alexander said. “Hats off to them, they made the plays and we didn’t.”
Reach Carson Lambert at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.