Sequoyah coach Rob Gilbreath tells his team members they need to win on Monday through Thursday each week and not just on Friday night.
The work put in during practices this season has paid off for the Eagles, who rode the running of Logan Hattaway – along with a stingy defense during crunch time – to rally for a 56-49 victory against Rejoice Christian in District 2A-8 action Friday night at the Pope Athletic Complex.
The victory extended Sequoyah’s winning streak to five games after a season-opening loss and kept the Eagles perfect in district play with a 3-0 mark.
“We have 14 senior leaders on this team, and they are doing a tremendous job,” Gilbreath said after seeing his team rally from a 14-point second-half deficit against Rejoice (2-3, 2-1) by responding with 28 unanswered points on the way to the win.
Sequoyah trailed 42-28 in the opening minute of the third quarter before launching its comeback.
One of the team’s 14 seniors, Blake Bedsworth, got Sequoyah going by scoring on a 3-yard run with 5:02 to go in the period.
The home team then hit the visitors with two long-distance touchdowns — a 62-yard sprint on a reverse by Dylan Piguet and a 67-yard jaunt by Hattaway.
Hattaway’s touchdown, his fourth of the night, came in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and gave Sequoyah the lead for good at 49-42.
Bedsworth then tacked on his second score of the night on a 19-yard run with 8:33 to play to give Sequoyah a 56-42 advantage.
That touchdown was set up by Sequoyah’s defense, which forced Rejoice to turn the ball over on downs at the Sequoyah 21-yard line. The Sequoyah sophomore quarterback scored two plays later.
But Rejoice, which compiled 408 yards in total offense in taking a 35-28 lead to the locker room at halftime, was not done.
Quarterback Chase Wilson, who accounted for all seven Rejoice touchdowns – five rushing, two passing – notched his team’s final points of the night on a 63-yard run with one minute remaining to bring his team within a touchdown.
The visitors then recovered the ensuing onside kick at midfield to give Wilson, who rushed for a game-high 254 yards on 19 carries while passing for 296 yards, and the Rejoice offense one final opportunity.
Rejoice drove as deep as the Sequoyah 34-yard line before four Wilson incompletions ended the team’s final scoring threat with 0:04 left on the clock.
Wilson finished 29 of 46 through the air with no interceptions.
“That quarterback is unbelievable,” Gilbreath said after watching Wilson’s performance.
“He can run it. He can throw it. We did our best to try to contain him.”
While Wilson paced the Rejoice offense, Hattaway ended up with a team-high 181 yards rushing on just 10 carries.
“I have to credit the offensive line,” Hattaway said after scoring on runs of 1, 42, 30 and 67 yards.
Gilbreath also thought the play of the Sequoyah offensive line was significant as his team rolled to 405 yards rushing.
“The difference in the game might have been our offensive line,” he said. “I think we were a little bigger up front.”
Bedsworth added 101 yards on the ground on 17 attempts.
The teams wasted no time putting points on the scoreboard as Sequoyah took a 21-14 lead into the second quarter.
The game was tied at 28 before Wilson tallied on a 15-yard run to give Rejoice its seven-point cushion at the half.
With the team now sporting a 5-1 mark overall and a perfect ledger in district play, Hattaway sees the change in this year’s squad after consecutive winless campaigns in 2018 and 2019.
“All the teams we have played have doubted us,” he said. “But it’s been an amazing difference this season. We are just taking it one game at a time.”