BAXLEY — The South Effingham Mustangs got lost while in the neighborhood of victory for the second successive week Friday night.
The Mustangs (0-2) trailed Appling County (3-0) just 13-10 early in the third quarter only to have the Pirates pull away for a 41-10 win at Jimmy Swain Stadium. South Effingham suffered a similar fate in its opener at Metter, dropping a 62-31 decision after being down just 29-24 at halftime.
Limited to a booming 50-yard field by Liam Rickman in the first half, the Mustangs started the third period against the Pirates with their best drive of the evening, advancing 77 yards in four plays. The final 60 yards came on a third-and-3 run by Justin Martell out of the single-wing formation.
Martell, a wide receiver, took an inside handoff while running toward the visiting bench and raced through the defense easily for a touchdown just two minutes into the quarter. He was led in the open field by blocker Jah’tavious Weickerson.
It took Appling County less than a minute to return its lead to 10 points. It got a little help, however.
After taking possession of the ball after an unsuccessful onside kick, the Pirates faced a third-and-3 situation at the Mustangs 42. The picked up a first down without having to run a play because the Mustangs jumped into the neutral zone, keeping the drive alive.
Three plays later, Dayton Griffis connected with running back Taylen Crosby for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 8:32 left in the third quarter.
Each team’s next possession ended in a punt after only three plays. The Pirates, however, benefited from a turnover and another short field to pad their lead to 27-10.
After Mustangs running back Denari Fields hauled in a short pass, linebacker Nehemiah Howard got his hands on the ball and pried it loose while Fields was fighting for yardage.
Set up at the South Effingham 38, the Pirates reached the end zone three plays later when running back Jamarion Williams rumbled for seven yards with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter. The drive featured an 18-yard catch and run by Crosby.
Appling County also scored on its first two possessions of the final quarter, The scores came on a 16-yard throw from Patrick Crosby to Dawson Griffis and an 11-yard run by Williams. Williams’ score was set up by the Mustangs’ third lost fumble.
Dawson Griffis also hauled in a 10-yard scoring pass in the opening quarter. It was tossed by Dayton Griffis.
Appling County’s other scores came on field goals of 25 and 31 yards by Alex Garcia.
The Mustangs worked primarily on their running game in the final minutes. Cameron Edwards got the call on six of seven plays during one stretch. He finished as his team’s leading rusher with 91 yards.
South Effingham totaled 172 yards on 49 snaps. It passed the ball only 11 times, getting four completions for 31 yards from Kade De Genaro.
The Pirates racked up 371 total yards, including 226 in the ground. Three rushers collected at least 50 yards.
The Mustangs are set to host Wayne County (0-2) in their home opener Friday at 7:30 p.m.