The Pepperell Dragons (0-1) opened the 2020 season at the Haralson County Rebels (1-0) with the daunting task of replacing injured second-year starter and all-region quarterback Gage Moses, who suffered an injury late in the preseason.
The Dragons had their chances with the quarterback duo of senior Tray Robinson and sophomore Matthew Waddell, but the Rebel bend-no-break defense held strong, giving the home team a 28-10 win.
After forcing the Dragons to punt on their first possession of the game, the Rebels went to work. Senior running back Marc Harris scored from 43 yards out to give the home squad a 7-0 lead.
The Dragons moved the ball well on their second possession, as senior kicker Will Helton connected on a 42-yard field goal to cut the Rebel lead to 7-3 with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
Just 2:12 later, Haralson County senior quarterback Clay Hyatt scored on a 39-yard run to give the Rebels a 14-3 lead with 16 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Rebel running back Steven Hardeman would add a 80-yard TD charge late in the second quarter to finish the scoring in the first half.
At the break, Haralson led 21-3.
Pepperell opened the second half on a strong note. A 12-play 98-yard drive ended with a Robinson touchdown pass to Jacob Wright from 6 yards out, giving the Dragons their only end zone visit of the night.
HC’s Harris added his second long touchdown run of the night, a 67-yard closer with 45 seconds remaining in the contest. Harris and Hyatt combined for 38 carries, 395 yards and three touchdowns offensively.
In the loss, Robinson led the Dragons offensively with 165 all-purpose yards and the passing score. Waddell finished 8-for-14 for 119 yards.
Pepperell returns to Lindale to prepare for its home opener on Friday, Sept. 11, against the Heard County Braves. Kickoff at Pepperell High School is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.