SPRINGFIELD — The last bounce of the ball went Evans’ way.
Brandon McCladdie intercepted Chris Hamilton’s fourth-down pass in the end zone, sealing the Knights’ dramatic and frantic 34-28 overtime win over the Effingham County Rebels on Friday night.
In the Region 3-AAAA duel at Rebel Field, there was one successful onside kick, one unsuccessful onside attempt, a pooch kick recovered by the kicking team, a fourth-down fake punt pass that went incomplete, a blocked punt, two blocked extra points and a blocked field goal.
“This was a great game,” said Knights coach Marty Jackson, whose team improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the region. “I don’t know if I’ve been involved in one like this.”
The Knights went up 34-28 when McCladdie scored from 2 yards out on their overtime possession. But the Rebels, having already smothered a field goal and an extra point, blocked another point after try.
The Knights, however, held, with an illegal procedure penalty on the Rebels and third-and-2 pushing them back.
“We seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot,” Rebels coach Jack Webb said. “But we kept fighting. I’m proud of the way the kids kept fighting.”
Effingham (2-3 overall, 2-2 region) trailed 28-14 early in the fourth quarter. Raymond Hines’ 11-yard TD run capped an 11-play, 53-yard drive that took 6:15 off the clock.
The Knights faced fourth-and-2 at their own 42 with 4:40 to go, but punter Kevin Millward, also the quarterback, fired to Taylor Hooven, who couldn’t hang on.
The Rebels cashed that in, with Chris Hamilton scoring on a 4-yard run with 8.9 seconds to play.
Effingham led 14-7 late in the second quarter. Hamilton tied the game with a 3-yard TD run and after a blocked punt, Hines ripped off a 26-yard scamper to put the Rebels ahead. Hines later broke up a pass in the end zone just before the Rebels batted down Matt Dickerson’s 31-yard field goal attempt as the first half ended.
But Evans reached into the bag of tricks, opening the second half with an onside kick. On the next play, Millward and Trey Henderson connected on a 43-yard touchdown pass, with Henderson weaving through traffic. A blocked PAT left the Rebels with a 21-13 lead.
“We’re going to have work harder on that,” Jackson said of his team’s kicking game. “They block a lot of kicks. What I’m proud of is the way (his players) responded to adversity.”
The Rebels didn't have the lead for much longer. The Knights recovered a bad handoff and Sean Matthews turned that into a 1-yard touchdown run Henderson ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game. Evans then tried a pooch kick and fell on it at the Rebels 36.
Millward — who was 7-for-7 for 120 yards in the third quarter alone — hit Henderson with a 2-yard touchdown pass and a 28-14 lead with 3:51 left in the third.
Millward finished 14-of-21 for 212 yards passing and two touchdowns. Hamilton led Effingham with 127 yards on 22 attempts. Hines added 85 yards on 14 carries.
“It just didn’t bounce our way in the second half,” Webb said. “it was one of those nights when we played hard and things didn’t go our way.”
First downs 15 13
Rushes-Yards 30-109 50-299
Passing Yards 212 18
Passes 14-21 1-5-2
Total Yards 321 317
Penalties 5-26 6-48
Punts 4-32.5 3-40.0
Fumbles/lost 1/1 1/1
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot.
EHS 0 7 21 0 34
ECHS 0 14 0 14 28
EHS — Trey Henderson 8 run (Matt Dickerson kick) 11:51
ECHS — Chris Hamilton 3 run (Jackie Chen kick) 6:41
ECHS — Raymond Hines 12 run (Chen kick) 3:33
EHS — Henderson 43 pass from Kevin Millward (kick blocked)
EHS — Sean Matthews 1 run (Henderson run)
EHS — Henderson 2 pass from Millward (Dickerson kick)
ECHS — Hines 11 run (Chen kick)
ECHS — Hamilton 4 run (Chen kick)
EHS — Brandon McCladdie 2 run (kick blocked)
EHS — Millward 11-44, Jonathan Finch 7-35, Henderson 6-18, McCladdie 4-7, Hector Mallar 1-4, Matthews 1-1. ECHS — Chris Hamilton 22-131, Hines 14-85, Dyone Youmans 7-59, Brandon Best 3-11, Dalton Couey 3-7, C.J. Cummings 1-1
EHS — Millward 14-21, 212; ECHS — Couey 1-3-1, 18, Hamilton 0-1-1, 0.
EHS — Jonathan Nicely 4-65, Henderson 3-52, McCladdie 3-22, Reuben Feloughi 2-58, Tevin Nelson 1-16, Joseph Saldana 1-(-1). ECHS — Hamilton 1-18.