SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for its opponent in the first game on the new playing surface at Rebel Field.
The Rebels (2-2) squashed the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets 42-7 Friday night in a rainy debut their Sports Turf.
“We picked a good night to test it out,” Effingham County coach John Ford said during a postgame downpour. “I think it’s going to be OK in the rain.”
Effingham County played its initial three games of 2022 on the road to give workers time to complete the $2.117,710 project that included extensive drainage additions.
The new piping proved helpful as it rained hard several hours before the contest, letting up just before kickoff. The precipitation picked up again in the fourth quarter.
“Everything came out so good,” Ford said. “I am so excited. I appreciate the (Effingham County Board of Education), (Superintendent) Dr. (Yancy) Ford and everybody else for stroking the check to do this because it looks (the field) looks awesome.
“We are blessed and grateful.”
Despite the wet conditions, the Rebels were nearly perfect in the first half of their final non-region game, rolling to a 28-0 lead. They tallied touchdowns on their first three offensive possessions and added a blocked punt return for a score.
The performance was a continuation of the progress Effingham County showed while beating Statesboro 32-10 the previous week. The Rebels were limited to a single touchdown while dropping their first two contests to Richmond Hill and Burke County.
“You want to get your speed of play up and get your weaknesses exposed,” Ford said. “You want to find somebody who will punch you in the mouth and see how you respond. Richmond Hill, Burke County, Statesboro and SEB, I thought, were four really , really good teams that would kind of get us ready for (Region 2-AAAAAA) play because we have a really good region.
“We’ve got to get ready.”
Nate Hayes connected on his first seven passes for 100 yards against the Yellow Jackets, including a 49-yard scoring strike to Timmy Brown in the second quarter. Keysean McCarr added two short first-half touchdown runs and Landen Wright got the other early score by returning a punt blocked by Luke Roberts 10 yards.
The Jackets (0-3) were limited to 22 yards on 22 first-half plays. They rushed for minus-6 yards in the first 24 minutes.
Effingham County continued the onslaught in the third period, getting an eight-yard scoring reception from Keion Wallace and a 1-yard touchdown run by Jayden Evans.
The fourth quarter began with a running clock. Southeast Bulloch scored on a touchdown pass with 13 seconds left against reserves.
In the passing department, Hayes finished 14 of 18 for 177 yards. Brown made three games for 87 yards.
Evans was the game’s leading rusher with 84 yards on 13 totes.
Ashley Thompson paced the Effingham County defense with an interception.
The Rebels will be off this week before opening Region 2-AAAAAA play at home Sept. 23 against South Effingham (3-1), which is coming off successive shutout wins over Islands and Bradwell Institute.