By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD -- Effingham County broke out new uniforms and ushered in the coach John Ford era at Rebel Field.
It had the ingredients of a memorable night. But the Beaufort Eagles weren't very accommodating guests. Beaufort quarterback Tyler Haley threw for 129 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 110 yards as the Eagles defeated the Rebels 24-3.
ECHS, 3-7 a year ago, came out with an early flurry while dressed to kill in red jerseys, blue numbers and blue pants. Quarterback Matthew Ford completed his first three passes, then scrambled for a 9-yard gain and the Rebels were at the Beaufort 17-yard line.
ECHS was backed by a holding penalty but Wyatt Lein converted the drive into points with a 41-yard field goal.
But the Rebels struggled offensively the rest of the way.
And Beaufort, a playoff team in South Carolina's Class AAAA last season, heated up. The Eagles scored on four of their final five possessions. Joe Caprarola's 47-yard field goal on the final play of the half tied the game 3-3.
Haley hooked up with Zyrin Odom on a 66-yard pass play to make it 10-3 in the third quarter and a Haley to Kacy Fields 35-yard TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter extended the Beaufort lead to 17-3.
The Eagles tackled on their final score with less than five minutes left when reserve back Caleb Ulmer powered in from the 3.
Beaufort's late surge ruined an outstanding start by the Rebels defense. ECHS allowed just 51 yards, two first downs and no points during the Eagles' first five series. Beaufort had 246 yards, seven first downs and all 24 points during its next five drives.
ECHS finished with 198 offensive yards. Senior running back Xayvier Coppock ran for 111 yards on 14 carries.