SPRINGFIELD — The early deluge of offense from Effingham County gave the Richmond Hill Wildcats a hole too deep to overcome.
Behind senior quarterback Phillip Brown — who ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and even caught two passes — the Rebels built a 30-point halftime lead and coasted to a 30-0 homecoming victory Friday night at Rebel Field.
With the win, the Rebels improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Region 3-AAAAA football standings. The Wildcats slipped to 2-3 for the season and 1-3 in the region.
“We didn’t play our game,” Wildcats coach Matt LeZotte said. “We had guys lining up incorrectly offensively and defensively. We’ve just got to do a better job.”
The Rebels turned to their offensive reserves in the second half, and the fourth quarter was played with a running clock. While the Wildcats defense limited Effingham’s offense in the second half, the offense struggled against the Rebels in the final two quarters. Richmond Hill did not get a first down in the second half until a roughing the punter call in the final four minutes, and nine of 13 plays lost yardage.
“They’re young, and they make young guy mistakes,” LeZotte said of his team. “Ninety percent of our team has never played before at the varsity level. It’s one of those things where it’s growing pains, but we’re making a lot of mistakes that we don’t need to make and we have control over. We have to fix it.”
Rebels coach Buddy Holder was effusive in the praise of his defense, tasked to counter the Wildcats’ diverse offense.
“They gave us a lot of trouble with the stuff they were doing, where they would scramble and throw down the field,” he said. “We were concerned about our defensive backs staying where they were supposed to be. But our kids played really well against a team that has an offense that is very, very tough to deal with.”
Effingham will visit Bradwell Institute this Friday, while Richmond Hill will host Statesboro, which fell 39-20 to No. 9-ranked Coffee.
In the interim, LeZotte may want his team to display a different attitude.
“We need some leadership from within,” he said. “We need guys to step up and change. We have to change the way we’ve been doing things and change the way we approach it. We expect more things from these guys.”