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Stumbling start costs Effingham County
Nate Hayes
Rebels quarterback Nate Hayes (7) reaches out to give a stiff arm to Bears defender Charlie Dorsey on Friday at the Bears Den. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

WAYNESBORO — Effingham County coach John Ford handles football games like voracious readers treat good books. He is quick to turn to the next page.

Seconds after Friday’s 28-10 setback to Burke County at the Bears Den, Ford was already thinking about resolving the Rebels’ early season woes. Effingham County has tallied only one touchdown while losing its first two contests.

Burke County (2-0) scored on it first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead with 7:42 left in the first period. The touchdowns came on passes of 50 and 32 yards from Marshall Flowers to Ronderius Gray and Kohen Rogers, respectively.

“You have to give a lot of credit to coach (Eric) Parker and his football team,” Ford said. “They are a really good team. They have a great program and we needed to come out and match their intensity, and we didn’t do that.”

The Rebels, outgained 264-99 in total yards in the first half, briefly interrupted the Bears’ onslaught. They advanced 67 yards in seven plays, the final one a 33-yard scoring toss from Nate Hayes to Keion Wallace with 1:08 left in the first quarter. Wallace made a leaping grab at the back of the zone between Donta Williams and Rogers.

Early in the second period, Burke County was forced to punt and pinned the Rebels at their own 1-yard line. Effingham County couldn’t get out of the hole and had to boot the ball back to the Bears, setting them up just 40 yards from paydirt.

It took only four plays for Burke County to return to the end zone in the same fashion as they did previously. The drive was capped by a 35-yard pass from Flowers to Noah Boynton.

The Bears’ final score came via the ground just before halftime. Jalen 

Cobb’s 13-yard jaunt up the middle capped an 7-play, 80-yard drive with 33 seconds left.

Effingham County marched deep into Burke County territory on its first four possessions of the second half. All it got out of the threats, however, was a 33-yard field goal from Jonah Strickland with 7:09 left in the contest.

“We’re going to try to stay true to the process,” Ford said. “If we have to reevaluate, we will for sure. I love our kids, I love our coaches and I am not down on them.

“We’ll just go back to work.”

 Effingham County is set to visit former Region 2-AAAAAA foe Statesboro (1-1) on Friday. The Blue Devils blasted Southeast Bulloch 56-14 in their last game.

“There is a lot of familiarity there,” Ford said. “I think the world of coach (Jeff) Kaiser and his staff. Those guys do an awesome job.

“You have to buckle your chin straps and make sure your mouthpiece is in when you play Statesboro.”