SPRINGFIELD — Benedictine’s grip on victory was somewhat tenuous until it put Effingham County in a defensive squeeze Friday night.
The Cadets (2-0), who led just 21-7 at intermission, limited the Rebels (1-1) to one first down in the final three quarters en route to a 49-7 win. The Rebels amassed just 79 total yards.
Benedictine benefitted from an early gift when linebacker Evan Scarbrough intercepted a pass in the middle of the field and returned it 40 yards for a score on the third snap of the game.
The Rebels responded to the miscue with their best drive. They burned more than seven minutes off the clock while marching 68 yards in 12 plays for a score.
The touchdown came on a 14-yard pass from Zach Garcia to Keion Wallace.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Cadets quickly regained control. LeShon Brooks Jr. raced 66 yards untouched right up the middle for a touchdown on their first offensive play.
Benedictine had only had one other snap during the opening period. Effingham County had 19.
“We played pretty dang good for a half,” Effingham County head coach Buddy Holder said. “We gave up one score on offense, which was on us, and they only had one long drive on our defense (in the first half), and they had one really quick score on their first play but we felt like we had a good shot at it.
"We felt like we were kind of where we wanted to be. We've got some bullets in our gun, too, but they did a really good job of shutting down about every thing we wanted to do in the second half."
The Rebels couldn’t sustain a drive after posting their lone score. They went three-and-out seven successive times until the second unit took the field with four minutes left.
The Cadets, meanwhile, scored four straight times in the second half. They amassed 359 total yards. Holder praised their performance.
“(Benedictine head coach) Danny (Britt) and those guys do a great job,” he said. “They have a great team and he has a great coaching staff over there. We know some of those guys over there.”
Garcia, who completed four of 16 passes for 39 yards, led the Rebels in rushing with 21 yards on 10 carries.
Khiry Wallace added a defensive highlight, a second-quarter interception.
The Rebels will return to action Sept. 25 at Lakeside-Evans.
"We've got to to back to the drawing board this weekend and look at what we can do to protect some plays and that kind of stuff," Holder said. "We've got a chance to heal up, hopefully."
Wallace was one of several players to suffer injuries.
"We want to make sure we are not banged up going to Lakeside in a couple of weeks," Holder said.