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Mustangs too hot for Phoenix in 2-AAAAA opener
South Effingham celebration
South Effingham players C.J. Hickox (56) , Stephen Kraeling (87) and Malcolm Brown celebrate with defensive line coach Jeremy Turner on Saturday. - photo by Photo by Birk Herrath
Taylor Jackson
South Effingham quarterback Taylor Jackson (2) shields himself from a New Hampshire defender during Saturday's game in Pooler. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

POOLER — It was a thriller from beginning to end.

The South Effingham Mustangs moved to 6-1 after surviving a 48-47 barn burner against New Hampstead on Saturday.

Wide receiver Noah Hoang snagged a 77-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Jackson to put the Mustangs on top for the final time with less than one minute left. From there, it was up to the defense to hold New Hampstead’s playmakers and it didn't disappoint.

Two successive incomplete passes led to a turnover on downs by the Phoenix, helping the Mustangs pick up a win in their Region 2-AAAAA opener.

“We got lucky but sometimes you get lucky when you work hard,” Mustangs head coach Nathan Clark said. “We've been executing all year and when we needed the miracle, we had one on our side today. Offensively, that's the best team we've seen.

“They did some stuff we had not prepared for — totally different formations — and they had us on the ropes. Credit to them.”

The Mustangs were down 47-41  when Taylor Jackson connected with Hoang for the game-winning score.

“If you aren't nervous in a situation like that, then there is something wrong with you,” Jackson said. “You have to stay cool, calm and collected. It’s trusting who you have.

“Noah is a fast. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time situations. I just let it fly. I had to trust myself to get it to him.”

“When they called the play, I knew I had an automatic go (route),” Hoang said. “In my head, it's either catch the ball and score or it's ball game.”

Rocko Griffin had a solid day on the ground, rushing for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

Each squad accumulated more than 500 yards of offense.

Clark pulled out all the stops, utilizing several players to score. Jackson, Griffin, Trevor Pfiester, Hoang and Trey Whiddon each reached pay dirt. 

South Effingham marched into the end zone on its opening drive. Whiddon tallied the touchdown from five yards out and Griffin added a scoring run a short time later.

New Hampstead (3-4, 0-1), however, answered each score by the Mustangs. 

The offensive slugfest never let up and the lead alternated in the second half before Hoang’s decisive catch.

“It’s always another day out here in paradise,” Jackson said.