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Bradwell topped by Effingham on homecoming
Bradwell running back Desmond Brown fights for yardage late in the Tigers loss to Effingham on Friday at Olvey Field. - photo by Pat Donahue

The momentum the Bradwell Institute Tigers gained in their third-quarter drive Friday disappeared in a hail of mistakes.

The Effingham County Rebels overpowered the Tigers on Bradwell’s homecoming night, posting a 46-7 victory at Olvey Field. With the loss, Bradwell fell to 0-6 on the season and 0-4 in Region 3-AAAAA, while the Rebels improved to 5-
2 and 3-2.

“Overcoming adversity seems to be our biggest thing,” said Tigers coach Greg Hill. “They play hard. If make the stop and just do the fundamental things — tackle, block — then we’re back in the thing. Take nothing away from them; they’re an extremely good football team.”

An unsportsmanlike penalty following Christian Evans’ 24-yard touchdown grab led to a short field for the Effingham County Rebels after the following kickoff, and two consecutive offside infractions turned a fourth-and-11 situation for the Rebels into a first down.

Up 13-0 to start the second half, the Rebels went 59 yards in three plays, the first two long runs from quarterback Phillip Brown. Rashaud Roper capped the drive with a 5-yard run, and Mackenzie Stewart’s point after pushed the Rebels’ advantage to 20-0 just 54 seconds into the third quarter.

But Bradwell answered with its best drive of the night, going 74 yards in 12 plays. On third and 6 from the Rebels’ 24-yard line, Quin McMassey scrambled to his right and lofted a pass toward Christian Evans. Evans caught it and shook off a tackler to get into the end zone with 6:20 to go in the third quarter.

However, the Tigers were assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty after the score, and it pushed the kickoff back to their own 25. Effingham started its ensuing possession at midfield. Bradwell’s defense forced a fourth-and-11 at the 39, but back-to-back offside calls kept the drive going. Brown eventually converted it into a 16-yard run up the middle and a 27-7 lead with 2:07 left in the third.

“It deflated our sails right there,” Hill said. “We had an opportunity to get back into the game. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Zebrandon Gant scored on a 10-yard run to wrap up a three-play, 56-yard drive for a 33-7 lead. Brown, moved to wide receiver, took a short pass from Jake Dangerfield and raced through the Tigers defense for a 76-yard pickup to the BI 5. That led to Danny Doe’s 1-yard plunge and a 39-7 lead with 6:43 left.

“We got off to a fast start, and it just stopped suddenly,” Rebels coach Buddy Holder said. “But they picked it back up, competed hard and finished real strong tonight. We’re real proud of them.”

Toot Johnson scored from 33 yards out on the next play after Effingham recovered a Bradwell fumble for the final score of the night. The Rebels finished with 447 yards of offense, 293 coming in the second half.

Effingham struck quickly, going 49 yards in six plays on its first drive. Brown hit Demario Gant on the sideline, and the sophomore receiver pulled away from a Tigers defender, racing in for a 31-yard touchdown. Stewart’s PAT gave the Rebels a 7-0 advantage with 6:07 to go in the third.

The Rebels’ next drive reached the BI 8, but Deion Stanley recovered a fumble to end the threat. Bradwell, aided by a roughing-the-kicker call that the Effingham coaches argued was a blocked punt and should not have drawn a flag, got to the Rebels 20. But a fumble on a botched reverse gave the ball back to Effingham.

Stewart connected on field goals of 28 and 37 yards, the first following a third-down sack of Brown, to push Effingham’s margin to 13-0.

The Tigers had 187 yards of offense, rushing for 153 on 50 attempts. They reached deep into the playbook, running an end around, a form of the Statue of Liberty and going with hurry-up sets on occasion. Bradwell nearly caught Effingham getting out of an officials’ timeout too slowly, rushing to the line to get off a play as the Rebels scampered back into position.

Kevin Harris had 54 yards on 12 carries to lead the Tigers, and Luther Echols added 50 yards on 12 attempts.

“We have to put it all together,” Hill said. “We’ve talked about having all facets playing well, and we haven’t done that yet. We have to find a way to put it all together.”

The teams combined for 26 penalties and 234 yards of infractions.

The Tigers will travel to Statesboro to face the Blue Devils on Friday, the same night Effingham will host Ware County.

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