“I sound like a broken record,” first-year Bradwell Institute head coach Adam Carter said after his Tiger football team lost by one point Friday night in Effingham. “I keep saying it every week — we’re fighting. We just can’t seem to get that one break. We should have won that football game. We made a mistake, and that’s a coachable football game. We fought the whole game. We played 48 minutes of football.”
Carter watched the game slip away when Rebel Daquare Hunter recovered a fumble inside the Effingham 10-yard line, and Nieem Bartley converted a critical third down as the Effingham Rebels staved off Bradwell Institute’s upset bid with a 7-6 win at Rebel Field. The loss drops the Tigers to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Region 3-AAAAA.
Effingham improved to 3-1 for the season.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Rebels head coach Buddy Holder said, “but our defense carried us. They played exceptionally hard. Coach (Tim) Hood and his staff did a great job all week. Those kids stayed focused. Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot. Sometimes that happens.”
The Tigers already were within kicker Robert Miller’s range, driving with three minutes to go when quarterback LeBaron Anthony had the ball knocked loose. Hunter pounced on it at the Rebels’ 9-yard line.
“I was relieved,” Holder said. “When you hit hard and bring the thump, things like that tend to go your way. We kept stressing that at halftime — those things are going to go our way, keep pounding and keep pounding, something good is going to happen, and it did.”
On third-and-five from the 14, Bartley charged for 11 yards with 2:02 to go, and Effingham ran out the clock.
Miller connected on field goals of 39 and 30 yards, and Bradwell took over with 4:18 to play when Bartley was stopped on fourth down at the Tigers’ 47. It was the second fourth-down stop. Bradwell marched to the Effingham 14 in three plays before Anthony lost the ball and Hunter recovered.
Effingham took a 7-0 lead when Kemaun Tillman scored on a 1-yard sneak to cap a 14-play, 44-yard drive early in the second quarter. Bradwell answered with a march that ended in Miller’s 39-yard field with 3:11 to go. The Rebels averted danger when Tillman fumbled at his own 35, stopping Bradwell on fourth down with 40 seconds to go in the half.
The Rebels opened the second half with a fumble on their first series, but they held on fourth down at their own 30.
Effingham was backed up at its own 3 late in the third quarter, and the ensuing punt put the Tigers at the Rebels’ 26. But on third-and-goal from the 4, the Tigers were cited for illegal procedure, and Sammie Clayton was thrown for a 4-yard loss. Miller drilled a 30-yard field goal with 7:40 to play in the game.
Penalties plagued both teams. Effingham committed seven penalties, costing the Rebels 55 yards in markoffs, while Bradwell had 14 infractions for 103 yards.
The Rebels mustered 98 yards rushing against the Tigers. Effingham held Bradwell to 162 yards of total offense.
“Defensively, this was our best game so far,” Carter said. “They bowed their backs a lot, and they played really well.”