SKIPPERVILLE — As the postseason started, G.W. Long coaches moved Kobie Stringer from wide receiver to quarterback.
The move paid major dividends Friday night.
Stringer rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns and the Long defense bottled up Luverne in the first half, sparking a Rebel 28-13 Class 2A second-round state playoff win over the sixth-ranked and previously undefeated Tigers at a rainy Long stadium.
G.W. Long (10-2) advances to play in the third round of the playoffs next week at Reeltown (11-1), a 30-20 winner over J.U. Blacksher. Luverne finished the season 11-1.
Stringer, who was moved to QB after a late-season injury to Dalton Caraway, scored on runs of 3 yards in the first half and 43 and 2 yards in the second half as the Rebel offense dominated most of the night, earning 289 yards rushing in the game.
The Rebel defense did the rest, especially in the opening half. The unit allowed Luverne only two first downs and 24 total yards in the opening half in five series. The Rebels also forced and recovered a fumble with Stringer earning the recovery during the opening half.
The Rebels dominated the first half behind the running of Stringer and running back Dillon Caraway, who had 59 first-half yards on eight carries, and a rock-solid defense that didn’t allow the Tigers much.
Long scored on two of its first four possessions to build a 14-0 halftime advantage.
After an opening drive sparked by a 21-yard run by Stringer was halted on the Luverne 26, the Rebels marched 54 yards in nine plays to go on top. Caraway had a 27-yard run to ignite the drive, but Stringer earned the touchdown on a 3-yard run up the middle.
Tanner Patton added the point after kick to make it 7-0 with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
After brief possessions by both teams, including a three-and-out by both with just one first down on a second Tiger series, the Rebels started at their own 38 with 8:06 left in the half.
Stringer ripped off a 35-yard run off the left side, pushing the Rebels to the Luverne 27.
The Luverne defense stiffened, forcing a 4th-and-8 at the 25. On the fourth down play, Stringer and most of the offense went to the right, but the Rebel quarterback handed off to Dillon Caraway, who was lined up at the right wingback spot, and Caraway took it to open space on the left side and went untouched to the end zone for a 25-yard TD run.
Patton added the extra-point kick to make it 14-0 with 5:27 left before halftime.
The Rebels had a chance to increase the margin after a fumble by the Luverne punt returner gave Long the ball at Tiger 24. However, Luverne’s defense stuffed three straight plays for losses and after a delay of game penalty, the Rebels punted back to the Tigers in the final minute.
Long quickly added to its lead in the third quarter when Stringer bolted off the right side for a 43-yard TD run, catching Luverne on a blitz with nobody back. Patton converted the extra point to make it 21-0 Rebels with 7:09 to go in the period.
Luverne’s offense finally cranked up on the ensuing series, covering 52 yards in five plays with a 32-pass completion from Tanner Simmons to Satyler Wilson sparking the drive. Simmons capped the series with a 1-yard run with 5:27 to go in the third, slicing the margin to 21-7.
Long, though, answered on the ensuing series with a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive. The Rebels mixed in runs by Stringer, Caraway and Trevor Morris on the drive before Stringer scored on a 2-yard run, faking a handoff to Caraway inside and coasting outside in open field to the left.
Patton converted his fourth extra point of the night to make it 28-7 with 16 seconds left in the period.
The Tigers scored midway in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by Kee-Shaun Glanton, but the extra point was no good, leaving it 28-13 with 6:51 left.
After stopping Long three-and-out, Luverne had a chance to cut it to a one-score game on the ensuing drive.
A 14-yard run by Glanton pushed the Tigers to their own 41 with the clocking moving down to four minutes left, but the Rebel defense stiffened and a fourth-down pass completion was well short of a first down with 2:46 left.
David is sports writer for Dothan Eagle.
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