By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – South Effingham’s football players will have a lot of good things to think about for two weeks.
The Mustangs rode into their bye week with an easier-than-expected 45-0 victory over Bradwell Institute on Friday night -– registering consecutive shutouts for the first time in school history.
South’s 45-point margin of victory tied its second largest in the program’s history, only two points shy of its all-time mark of 47 in a 53-6 win over Cross Creek on Oct. 5, 2012. The Mustangs also had a 45-0 shutout against Savannah Christian on Nov. 14, 2003.
“I’m really pleased with the boys’ performance,” SEHS coach Nathan Clark said. “They’ve worked really hard preparing for this football game. The whole team.
“You can’t say enough about the defense and coach Mac (defensive coordinator Sean McNamee) and his staff and what they have going on. Obviously, offensively, this was the best performance we’ve had all year. And we did a lot of good things on special teams.”
It was a winning trifecta for a homecoming night. And the rain that came down all day prior to kickoff, stayed away until after halftime so the festivities could be conducted without umbrellas.
Rain or no rain, South’s power running attack had little problem overpowering a Bradwell team that has lost 25 straight games. The Mustangs (2-1) ran for 297 yards and scored on seven of their nine offensive possessions. The run game was so effective, South attempted only one pass.
Leading rusher Jamari Fields was out with a leg injury, but senior Justin Martell helped fill the void with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Running back Rakeam Williams and quarterback Aubrey Heath also ran for two scores apiece. Kicker Tyler Quick booted five extra points and a 23-yard field goal and reserve kicker Irvin Herrera added the final PAT.
South’s defense, coming off the 24-0 shutout of Islands a week earlier, limited Bradwell to 125 offensive yards and forced three turnovers.
Two Tigers special team mishaps and a lost fumble set up three Mustang touchdowns in a span of 6:19 of the first half. Williams had the first TD on a 1-yard run after a 3-yard Bradwell punt gave South possession at the Tiger 23.
Bradwell’s fumble on the next possession was followed by Martell’s 62-yard TD run to make it 14-0.
Less than two minutes later, the Tigers’ punter dropped the snap and fell on the loose ball at BI 6. On the next play, Williams scored to expand the lead to 21-0.
Martell finished the first-half scoring with a 41-yard TD run. Heath capped second-half scoring drives with TD runs of 3 and 8 yards. Between Heath scores, Quick hit a 23-yard field goal.
The lopsided win made for a feel-good Friday, but Clark warns about tougher nights ahead. South will be back in action Sept. 23 against rival Effingham County in Springfield.
“(During the bye week) what we’re really going to harp on is if we want to make the playoffs, we have to win region games,” Clark said. “We beat a Bradwell team that hasn’t been very successful lately and we beat an Islands team that’s a little down this year so we still have to prove ourselves. Getting the wins were great. We love success but we have a lot ahead that we want to accomplish.”