Reverend Chance Ward, our team chaplain — his sermon today was about perseverance and it happened in the game. We are excited that everything he preached is kind of how the game unfolded.Rebels coach Buddy Holder
SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County's controlling grip of its football rivalry with South Effingham appeared to be slipping Friday night.
The Rebels refused to surrender their advantage, however, as they rallied from a point down in the fourth quarter to prevail 30-17, notching their third straight win in the series. Effingham County (3-1) holds a 14-11 overall lead after taking six of the last seven meetings.
As noted by South Effingham coach Donnie Revell, the latest installment was thrilling throughout.
"Hats off to Coach (Buddy) Holder and his staff," Revell said. "They did a great job preparing. My coaches did the same thing.
"It was a heck of a football game."
The outcome was very much in doubt until the final minutes.
"I was really, really glad that our kids persevered," Holder said. "Reverend Chance Ward, our team chaplain — his sermon today was about perseverance and it happened in the game. We are excited that everything he preached is kind of how the game unfolded."
Trailing 17-16 with 11:03 remaining, Effingham County started an 80-yard march for a go-ahead touchdown. The four-play drive featured a 49-yard run on a reverse by receiver Randy Scott.
"(The linemen) did a great job blocking on that play," Holder said. "We felt like it was there for a long time but you don't want to try to pull that thing out too early. It was a good play call by (offensive coordinator) Sterling McNeil and the kids executed it."
Three plays after Scott's long run, Desmond House scored the second of his three rushing touchdowns from three yards out with 9:52 remaining.
"Desmond made some really, really good cuts and some outstanding plays," Holder said.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs threatened to reclaim the lead. They advanced to the Effingham County 43 before running out of downs. The surge ended with a fumbled snap on a fourth-and-three play with 6:30 to go.
"The kids executed when they had to," Holder said. "Their backs were against the wall."
South Effingham trailed 16-10 at halftime but moved in front midway through the third quarter when quarterback Taylor Jackson connected with Shemar Moore on a 36-yard touchdown pass.
The Mustangs' other scores came on a 52-yard run on a fake punt by Eric Norman and a 40-yard field goal by Liam Rickman.
"I'm proud of the effort of our kids," Revell said. "They gave great effort but it still comes down to blocking, tackling and making plays at the right time, and we just didn't do it."
The Rebels got some breathing room with 4:18 to go when House ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run to the right. He finished with 134 yards on 19 rushes.
House's first touchdown covered 24 yards in the second quarter.
Ashaud Roberson tallied Effingham County's first touchdown on a seven-yard run to cap the opening drive of the game. The Rebels also got a 31-yard field goal from Zach Thomas on the last play of the first half.
Effingham County outgained the Mustangs by just two total yards — 349-347.
"We had opportunities to make plays and we didn't," Revell said. "They had opportunities to make plays and they made some big ones. We made our share but they made more plays than we did."