LANSING | For 24 minutes Friday night the Rebels and the Meteors played the type of throwback game that made even the oldest alumni proud to brush off their letterman’s jacket.
After a lackluster first half where neither team seemed to play with a sense of urgency T.F. South Coach Tom Padjen decided to mix things up in the third quarter coming out in the Wildcat formation.
“Everyone knew this was our last shot to make the playoffs,” Padjen said. “We talked about just making plays, and tonight guys stepped up and made them.”
The switch paid off as junior quarterback Torian Lewis faked a handoff to the right and cut back up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead.
“The fake carried their defense to the sideline,” Lewis said. “When I saw the middle open I just ran, this was a playoff game and a big rivalry game for us.”
The Meteors (3-5, 2-3 South Suburban Blue) came right back driving down to the Rebels 3-yard line before a fumble handed the ball back to T.F. South.
It looked like the Rebels might have gotten the turnover that would take the wind out of the Meteors' sails, but T.F. North forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at the T.F. South (4-4, 2-3 South Suburban Blue) 30.
Six plays later Anthony Watkins found the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 and set the stage for a thrilling finish.
The Meteors seized the momentum as Watkins continued to pile up yards getting 110 of his game high 149 yards in the second half.
Behind Watkins running, the Meteors took their next possession and drove 69 yards for the go-ahead score with 5:19 left to play in the game.
As T.F. North fans were starting to celebrate what looked like a Meteors victory the Rebels were preparing to answer the bell for another round.
With Lewis back at quarterback the Rebels got up off the canvas and drove down the field to the Meteor 28-yard line.
With the Meteors defense on their heels Padjen did the unexpected again putting starting quarterback Cody Petrich back in the game.
On the next play Petrich hit Ka’Ton Mays for a leaping touchdown catch to put the Rebels ahead 14-13 with 1:38 to play.
“I knew I’d have to go in one more time down there,” Petrich said. “Tory did a great job getting us down there I just went in and topped it off. I saw single coverage on Ka’ton and just out it up for him to get.”
With time running down, quarterback Aaron Dunnigan led the Meteors down to the Rebel 19 with 20 seconds to play but Lewis came up big again picking off a pass at the 2-yard line to seal the win.