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Rebels make a stand
Effingham turns away Lakeside twice near goal line to preserve win
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Michael Johnson leaps over the line for extra yardage against the Lakeside-Evans Panthers in the Effingham County Rebels’ 7-0 win Friday night. Johnson finished with a team-high 83 yards and scored the game's lone touchdown. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Teams who venture close to the goal line against Effingham County are finding it’s become a land of no return.

A week after a key goal-line stand in a 7-3 win over Statesboro, the Rebels did it not once but twice against Lakeside-Evans on Friday night, holding on for a crucial 7-0 victory at Rebel Field.

“That’s just the attitude the kids have had,” Rebels coach Jack Webb said. “We hope it continues.”

With the win, the Rebels (5-4, 5-3 in Region 3-AAAA) kept their playoff hopes alive.

Early in the second quarter, the Panthers, known more for their prolific passing attack, resorted to their running game to pound their way down to the Rebels 6-yard line. They got down to the 1-yard line, but on fourth-and-goal from the 1, quarterback Chad Chandler kept the ball and was chased all the way back to the 18 before being pulled down.

The Panthers were at the Rebels 4 on their first possession of the second half, but lost three yards in three plays before the Rebels blocked Ricky McMurtrey’s 24-yard field goal attempt.

That Lakeside drive came on the heels of an epic Effingham County march, as the Rebels went 62 yards in 15 plays, taking 8:08 off the clock before Michael Johnson smashed his way into the endzone from 2 yards out. Twice the Rebels went for it on fourth down, converting each time.

“That third-quarter drive was big,” Webb said. “It ate up a lot of time. We were hoping to do that all night long,” Webb said. “But we couldn’t get anything going.”

Effingham picked up five of its seven first down for the game on that drive and penetrated into Lakeside territory for the only time during the game.

But the defense forced three turnovers, including an interception when Chandler went across the line of scrimmage and uncorked a pass. The Rebel defense denied the Panthers three times in the final four minutes — the first as Josh Kight tipped away a fourth-down pass at the Rebel 13, the second as Desmand Washington recovered Michael Paul’s fumble at the Rebels 28 and at the end as Darryl Wright picked off Chandler on the next to last play.

The Rebels ran for 151 yards on 47 rushing attempts and did not record a pass attempt. The Rebels also converted a fake punt on a fourth down.

Johnson led Effingham’s ground attack with 83 yards on 19 attempts. Steven Tarpley ran 10 times for 41 yards and Chris Hamilton had nine carries for 27 yards.

The Panthers had 212 yards of offense, with Chandler going 9-of-21 for 117 yards through the air.

“We knew they could sling it,” Webb said of the Panthers, “and they dadgum showed they could.”

Effingham faces Brunswick on the road to end the regular season next Friday.