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Region title in Rebels' reach following last-second win over Devils
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By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD -- Luis Meza's 22-yard field goal as time expired gave Effingham County a thrilling 34-31 win over Statesboro on Friday night, clinching a spot in the state tournament for the first time since 2018.

The Rebels (6-2, 4-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) positioned themselves for another landmark goal -- a first region championship since 1995 -- if they can beat Brunswick next Friday at Rebel Field.

Meza's field goal capped a frenzied ECHS comeback. The Rebels scored 13 points in the final 5:33 after falling behind 31-21.

Quarterback Matthew Ford completed 25 of 35 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Ford had scoring passes of 13 yards (to Miquel Allen), 26 yards (to Timmy Brown) and 10 yards (to Ashley Thompson).

Allen also scored on a 3-yard run.

ECHS dominated the fourth quarter, outgaining Statesboro 136-0 in total yards during the final 12 minutes.

The Blue Devils seemed to gain control of the back-and-forth affair with an interception return in the final minute of the third quarter and a long fumble return midway through the fourth quarter.

But trailing 31-21, Allen capped a 64-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard TD run and with less than two minutes remaining Meza booted a 29-yard field goal.

SHS fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Messiah Bacon recovered at the 13, setting the stage for the seventh lead change of the game on Meza's game-winning kick.