LANSING | T.F. South coach Tom Padjen isn't one to give big speeches, especially a Knute Rockne-like speech.
The veteran coach motivated his team at halftime by telling a story from the 1997 season.
"We were at Eisenhower and our quarterback (his son Mark), was tackled near the Eisenhower sideline and a coach yelled, 'Take his legs out,'" Tom Padjen said.
Mark Padjen, who was at Friday's game, recalled after the game: "I got in his face and said 'I am indestructible.'"
The "indestructible" speech motivated the Rebels as they shut down Eisenhower in the second half for a 17-7 South Suburban Conference crossover win on Friday.
Senior Jariel Brooks said the players took the speech to heart.
"We were indestructible in the second half and we had to get it together," Brooks said. "This was like a playoff game for us because we have to win the rest of our games if we are going to make the playoffs. We had to step it up."
With their backs to the wall and a homecoming crowd behind them, South (3-3) shut out the Cardinals (4-2) in the second half. South has not been over .500 this year.
"We just had to step up our defense, couldn't let them into the end zone," Brooks said. "This was a big win because we didn't want our season to end."
The Rebels came up with some big third-down stops in as Eisenhower was 1 of 4 on third-down conversions.
"That was the key to the second half — the defense making some stops," Tom Padjen said. "We didn't do that the previous weeks."
After Eisenhower's T.J. Skelton rushed for 132 first half yards, he was shut down and held to 26 rushing yards in the second half.
"Our defense really stepped it up, particularly in the second half," Tom Padjen said. "We came out hard in the second half."
Ka'Ton Mays had two interceptions, including a touchdown-saving one late in the fourth quarter.
"No way were they gonna score and I wasn't going to let them," Mays said. "I was thinking they score and get an onside kick, they could win the game. No way were we gonna lose. We took that 'indestructible' speech to heart."
Mays had a 69-yard touchdown pass from Cody Petrich called back on a holding penalty. Trailing 7-3, Trenton Gilbert broke off right tackle for a 49-yard score with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
"I got a few good blocks and took off," Gilbert said. "I was running for the team because we knew if we didn't win, we were done. I saw daylight and took off and didn't look back."
Neither did the Rebels as Petrich, who opened the game with two interceptions, scored on a 24-yard run with 9:38 left in the game to salt the game away.
"That wasn't the best start, throwing two picks," Petrich said. "We started moving the ball pretty good and a lot of that was because our defense really stepped up and gave us good field position."