Laney's defense denied Hephzibah's Todd Booker a win in his coaching debut.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 10 in Georgia Class AAA, held the Rebels to 38 yards of total offense and rolled to a 17-0 win at Rebel Field on Friday night.
"Once our defense gets on the field, our defense could probably dominate any offense around here," Laney senior linebacker J.K. Sabb said. "All we know is to go hard on every play. And what happens, happens."
Laney (2-0) created nightmares for Hephzibah's ground attack. The Wildcats held the Rebels to 23 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
"We never could get anything going offensively," said Booker, whose team committed six turnovers. "Laney had a lot to do with that."
Booker, a Hephzibah defensive coordinator a year ago, took over a Rebels program that advanced to the playoffs last year for the first time in school history. The squad he inherited was minus 25 seniors from the 2001 team.
Hephzibah (0-1) fumbled away its chances at victory late in the first half, losing three turnovers in the final 4:35 of the second quarter. Laney's Rod Briscoe recovered an errant pitch by Derrell Hills on the Hephzibah 18-yard line, setting up the Wildcats' first score.
Sabb rushed twice for gains of 4 and 8 yards, giving the Wildcats a first-and-goal from the 6. Three plays later, Sabb muscled his way through the right side of the line for a 1-yard touchdown run. Sabb added the extra point, and the Wildcats led 7-0 with 2:41 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Briscoe crashed into Hills, creating another Hephzibah turnover. But the Rebels defense held, and Hephzibah got the ball back on its 28 with 1:26 left before halftime.
Hephzibah tried to run the clock out, but Laney had other plans. On consecutive plays, Sabb stuffed the Rebels for losses. Then, Russell Brunson sacked Hills for a 6-yard loss.
Laney got the ball back and advanced it to the Hephzibah 16. The Wildcats scored on a 33-yard field goal by Sabb and led 10-0 at the break.
"Defensively, we felt like we needed to set up some scores," Laney coach Eric Parker said. "That's the way we win. Defense."
Laney's defense didn't let up in the second half. Robert Dunn picked off Hills and returned the interception 58 yards down the right sideline to the Rebels 7-yard line.
On third-and-goal from the 2, Jarrett Moye crashed through the left side of the line. The Wildcats led 17-0.
"Laney is well-coached," Booker said. "They're one of the top teams that's for real in the area. I look for them to make a lot of noise in the playoffs."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.
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