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Mustangs tame Tigers in season finale
Cam Edwards
South Effingham’s Cam Edwards is greeted by Robert Clark (42) after scoring a touchdown against Bradwell Institute on Friday. - photo by Photo by Birk Herrath

GUYTON — A hearty victory celebration was delayed but not denied Friday night at The Corral.

The South Effingham Mustangs (2-8, 1-5) endured a chaotic measurement for a first down in the final minute before getting to express their joy about a 28-22 Region 2-AAAAAA decision over Bradwell Institute (0-9, 0-6).

“It couldn’t have been any closer,” Mustangs coach Nathan Clark while smiling broadly.

After being awarded a first down by less than the length of a chain link on a third-and-1 at the Tigers’ 48, South Effingham ran out the clock, snapping a six-game losing streak.

 Continuing a trend in recent games, the Mustangs played solidly on both sides of the ball. Their defense had allowed only 135 total yards against the Tigers until Jo’quell Davis broke free for a 70-yard touchdown reception with 1:54 remaining.

“Coach Mac (Sean McNamee)  does a phenomenal job with that defense,” Clark said. “He keeps the players fired up with that positive energy. They bring it and they get on that coach’s back, and follow him.

“They have worked so hard and they left it on the field.”

After surrendering at least 30 points in each of their first eight games, the Mustangs allowed just 27 in a hard-fought game against region runner-up Richmond Hill on Oct. 29 and 22 against the Tigers.

“For the most part, we are pretty young defensively,” Clark said. “If you look at it, we had four guys who played defense who were seniors.”

The senior group was led by middle linebacker Louis Hicks.

“He was our best player defensively. There is no question about it,” Clark said. “He was outstanding. He came so far this year.

“I know he had 90-something tackles going into the game so I’m sure he’s over 100 now.”

Clark also lauded Hicks’ leadership ability. It was a trait shared by other seniors, the coach said.

“Even with losing games and playing some really tough opponents, (the team) stuck together,” Clark said. “They believed in one another and they kept fighting. The seniors would not let them quit.

“They fought all the way to the end.”

Senior running back Cam Edwards surprised Clark by emerging as a leader this season. He carried the ball 100 times for 525 yards in the final three games. He rushed for 232 yards against Bradwell Institute, scoring on runs of 23, 4 and 44.

Edwards’ initial touchdown came on the first snap after an apparent interception return for a touchdown by Victavious Smith was negated. The quarterback was ruled to be in Damyon McFarlin’s grasp when he threw the ball.

“(Edwards’ first score) was a big play,” Clark said. “I thought we should have had a pick six. We ran a play that we hadn’t run all year with the particular formation and motion, and I think it kind of threw them off a little bit because it was a little fake reverse, an end around.”

    Edwards’ big night pushed him over 1,000 rushing yards on the season.

“He’s a heck of a football player,” Clark said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever had a player turn around like he did in one year’s time. I’m so proud of him.”

Clark added that the Mustangs’ offensive line “gelled” in recent games.

South Effingham tallied its first touchdown early in the first quarter on a 69-yard pass from Kaden De Genaro to Joell Laldee.

The Mustangs outgained the Tigers in total yards 325-205.