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Mustangs take a wild one
Cadets fumble at goal line at last second
10.21 sehs football 1
Gage Marks scores the winning touchdown against Benedictine in the fourth quarter. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue


Big yardage for the Mustangs

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Hamilton on the keep

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On the board with 7

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SAVANNAH — By mere seconds and barely three feet, the South Effingham Mustangs are atop the Region 3-AAA (A) football standings.

Benedictine quarterback A.J. DeFilippis fumbled the snap and fourth-and-goal at the South Effingham 1-yard line as the clock ran out, and the Mustangs held on for a tension-filled 24-17 win Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

“This is one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” Mustangs coach Greg Manior said.

It certainly was one of the wildest. With the game tied at 3-3 at halftime, the Mustangs (5-1, 2-0) needed only 13 seconds to seize momentum, as Frank Manker ran the kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown.

The Cadets (4-2, 1-1) needed 14 seconds to get the momentum back. John Williams spun through a handful of Mustangs tacklers, shook free and raced 80 yards for a touchdown that put BC on top 10-9.

But the Mustangs got a huge break on the Cadets’ next possession, when the snap sailed over DeFilippis’ head as he dropped back to punt. South Effingham recovered at the 5-yard line and Jeff Hamilton scored two plays later from 2 yards out. Hamilton hit Gage Marks with a two-point pass for a 17-10 lead.

Not to be outdone on a kick return, the Cadets’ Cam White gathered Chris Zittrouer’s kick at his own 8, took off on the right-hand side, swept left to the other side of the field and then reversed his field again. By the time he was corralled, he had given BC the ball at South Effingham’s 29. DeFilippis scored on a 1-yard sneak to tie the game at 17-17.

The Mustangs’ offense, bottled up for much of the night, got untracked on its one and only possession of the fourth quarter. The Mustangs went 57 yards in nine plays, with Marks polishing off the drive with a 7-yard run with 7:02 to go. Zittrouer’s point after put the Mustangs back in front 24-17.

“It was give and take,” Manior said. “My guys played so great. I’m so proud of them. I felt both teams played hard. Our guys never gave up.”

The Cadets used every last second of the final 7:02 on their drive that died on the Mustangs’ doorstep. They used 14 plays and went 67 yards — though they needed 68.

“BC made some big plays,” Manior said. “Our defense, we left them on the field a lot.”

The Cadets scored first, with Daniel Fischer’s 32-yard field goal capping an opening drive that went 13 plays and 66 yards and chewed up nearly eight and a half minutes.

The Mustangs didn’t pick up their first first down of the game until the 6:18 mark of the second quarter as Waylon Parrish made diving catch of Hamilton’s pass for 15 yards. Sparked by Marks’ 39-yard run, the Mustangs got down to the BC 2 before settling for Zittrouer’s 19-yard field goal.

Fischer had missed a 47-yarder and Caleb Collins’ kickoff return set the Cadets up with a short field. Collins attempted a 30-yarder as the first half expired, but Cody Miller, who wound up with the ball at the end of the game, blocked it.

“I felt real fortunate to be tied at 3 at halftime,” Manior said. “When it came down to it, they had a lot of momentum.”

BC outgained South Effingham 139-90 in the first half. For the game, the Cadets outgained the Mustangs 310-161 and ran 60 plays to South Effingham’s 35.

South Effingham, BC and Burke County entered Friday night tied for first in the subregion, but it’s now only SEHS and Burke County after the Bears blanked Hephzibah 24-0. It was also the second straight win for the Mustangs over former coach and current BC coach Bob Herndon. But what’s most important to Manior is where the Mustangs are now — atop the subregion.

“Being No. 1 in the subregion means a lot to us,” he said. “We play tough teams every week. To come out of Savannah with a win like this is big.”

The yardstick

    SEHS    BC
First downs    8    16
Rushes-Yards    28-121    46-251
Passing Yards    40    59
Passes    4-7    7-15
Total Yards    161    310
Penalties    2-10    3-21
Punts    3-30.6    1-31.0
Fumbles/lost    1/0    2/1

Score by quarters

1st    2nd    3rd    4th    Tot.
SEHS    0    3    14    7    24
BC    3    0    14    0    17

Scoring summary
First quarter
Benedictine — Daniel Fischer 32 field goal
Second quarter
South Effingham — Chris Zittrouer 19 field goal
Third quarter
SEHS — Frank Manker 86 kickoff return (kick failed)
BC — John Williams 80 run (Fischer kick)
SEHS — Jeff Hamilton 2 run (Gage Marks run)
BC — A.J. DeFilippis 1 run (Fischer kick)
Fourth quarter
SEHS — Marks 7 run (Zittrouer kick)