GUYTON — Effingham County quarterback D’Andre Johnson stared at the clock like a disgruntled hourly employee. He and his teammates were ready to go Friday.
The Rebels’ coaching staff, however, in a merciful move, forced Johnson and company to slow their pace as they built a 54-0 lead over Groves with almost three minutes left in the first half. Effingham County went on to win by that score.
Head coach Buddy Holder unloaded his bench, playing five quarterbacks.
“That first group that went in executed pretty well, and I am proud of them — defensively and offensively,” Holder said.
Effingham County’s longest scoring drive covered 43 yards. Two were less than 10.
“Defensively, they made some turnovers in some bad places on the field and it helped us," Holder said. "Our biggest concern was not to get caught up in the score and evaluate it play by play by play.”
The Rebels’ defense shined on its first snap as Willie Ferrell intercepted a pass and returned it 33 yards to the Groves 6. Two plays later, quarterback Zach Garcia scored from six yards out.
Just over three minutes later, the Rebels were in the end zone again as Garcia hit Johnson with a 32-yard stroke at the goal line.
Midway through the opening quarter, Groves was stuffed on a fourth-and-4 at its 28, setting up another short scoring drive. Zach Thomas did the honors with a 36-yard field goal.
The defense got on the board a half minute later when Jalen Douse picked off a pass and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.
Desmond House, who followed the game’s first touchdown with a two-point run, tallied a scoring jaunt . Johnson, Devon Swinney and Jakobe Gadsden also rushed for touchdowns, The Rebels recorded a safety, too.
Effingham County (1-1) will host Beaufort (S.C.) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Beaufort’s game against rival Battery Creek (S.C.) was canceled last week due to the threat of violence. The Eagles dropped their opener to Flora (S.C.) 37-21.