It was a big game atmosphere Friday night in Pembroke as the No.2-ranked Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs came to town to take on the Redskins of Bryan County in a Region 3A matchup.
ECI (8-0, 4-0 region) kept their undefeated season intact with a 28-0 win. The loss puts Bryan County at 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the region and their backs against the wall as far as state playoff hopes go.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to assert themselves. On its opening possession, ECI quickly went up 7-0 after a 47 yard score and extra point with 9:44 still on the clock.
The Redskins' offens, which produced 410 rushing yards last week against Portal, took over after the kickoff on their own 21, but could not get anything going against the Bulldogs’ defense. Bryan County found the rushing train slowed down as ECI brought a defense with the size and quickness the Redskins' had not faced all year.
"This was definitely the toughtest team we have faced all year,” Redskins coach Ron Lewis said. “They are No. 1 for a reason."
ECI built a 21-0 halftime lead. Bryan County received the second half kickoff after deferring at the start of the game and their first snap began on their 36-yard line.
Trying to get the running game going proved to be no easier as the Bulldogs' shut down the Bryan County backfield tandem, especially the running of Ivey Mutcherson, who seemed to have a bullseye on his jersey and gained only 15 yards on 13 carries.
ECI’s first offensive series of the second half found the Bulldogs pinned inside their own 10 after a D.J. McElroy punt. Leaning heavily on one of their Division I prospects, Washaun Ealey, the Bulldogs running backs made several nice runs capped off with another score by Ealey, and with 3:45 on the clock in the third ECI cushioned its lead to 28-0.
The Redskins' defense made some nice hits and defensive stands, led by Jarell Paulk with 8 tackles and Justin Covington and Justin Bostick with 6 tackles each, but missed assignments and inconsistencies continued to haunt the young Redskin's team.
Several players saw action in the fourth quarter as Bryan County took precaution against any more injuries.
"We are beat up bad, we had nine players out due to injuries tonight" Lewis said.