Riding a four-game winning streak coming into Friday night, the Effingham County Rebels made it five consecutive victories with a hard-fought 14-12 win over Brunswick.
The Pirates entered the tilt with a 3-3 record and outplayed the Rebels in nearly every statistical category except the one that mattered most: points scored.
Brunswick tripled the Rebels’ total yards (323 to 105 for Effingham County) and had 20 first downs to the Rebels’ six, but the Effingham defense would hold off the Pirates for most of the night and preserve the victory.
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead when Brunswick’s Jamarius Stevens plunged into the end zone from one yard out to give them a 6-0 lead – Patrick Caceres’ kick was no good.
Following the touchdown by Brunswick, the Rebels started a drive of their own but were stopped and forced to punt. On the ensuing drive, the Rebel defense made their biggest play of the night.
Near the red zone late in the drive, Stevens dropped back to pass and let a spiral go towards his intended receiver, only to have Effingham County’s Demonte Lee intercept the pass and take it 78 yards down the field for a pick-six. Mackenzie Stewart added the extra point and the Rebels took a 7-6 lead.
In the second quarter, the Rebels extended their lead when Toot Johnson found pay dirt from two yards out. Stewart added the extra point and the Rebels led 14-6.
Neither team found much success on offense in a scoreless third quarter and entered the fourth quarter with the Rebels holding an eight-point advantage.
Brandon McMaster – who led all rushers in the game with 25 carries for 124 yards – found running room for the Pirates and put Brunswick back on the board again with a two-yard touchdown run. The Pirates went for two to attempt to tie the game but were unsuccessful and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Rebels raised their fists in celebration.
It was a less-than-stellar night for the Rebels’ offense as the team turned the football over twice.
Effingham County quarterback Jerrid Stokes finished the game 8-12 for 39 yards through the air and two interceptions. Zebrandon Gant went 2-2 with 29 yards passing.
On the ground, Johnson finished with eight carries for 31 yards and the lone Effingham County touchdown on offense. Gant added 11 carries for 15 yards and Stokes carried two times for -4 yards.
Demario Gant led all Rebels’ receivers with three catches for 39 yards. Lee added six catches for 33 yards.
“We felt our kids played very hard,” Head Coach Buddy Holder said on the win. “They showed a great deal of discipline and mental toughness.”
Holder continued and pointed out that while the stats may not show it, his players made the right plays when they needed them.
“The pick-six by Demonte Lee was a huge play in the game,” Holder said. “Mackenzie Stewart was perfect on the night with her extra points, which were very important, and Zebrandon Gant tipped away Brunswick’s last pass attempt to seal the victory.”
With the win, the Rebels are now 5-2 entering their game with Glynn Academy on Tuesday night at 6.The Rebels will also play again on Friday night as they travel to Hinesville to take on Bradwell Institute at 7:30.