On a humid Friday night and after a one hour and 15 minute lightning delay, eager fans were finally able to settle in and watch the underdog Bryan County Redskins from Region 3A battle the 3AAA Mustangs from South Effingham at Pembroke.
Coach Ron Lewis’ scrappy Redskins may have been out numbered, but they were not out-hearted, playing the Mustangs tough before falling 17-8.
"Our boys have to keep believing in themselves and they do," Lewis said. "The team morale is good and they feel that these close games give them something to build on as they get ready for region play."
South Effingham received the opening kickoff, but the Redskins’ fiesty defense forced the Mustangs to punt on their first possession. Bryan County’s first possession was highlighted by senior fullback Justin Bostick’s 57-yard gallop up the middle. The Redskins were held scoreless on that possession, but their confidence was building. But with neither team able to mount much of an offensive edge the first quarter ended with no score.
The second quarter continued to be fought in the trenches until South Effingham mounted a drive with 1:20 remaining in the first half.
With the ball on the Bryan County 35 yard line, the Mustangs completed several short passes to get down to the Redskin’s 3, where they punched it in for the game’s first touchdown. The extra point was good and with 29 seconds left until half time, South Effingham had taken a hard earned 7-0 lead.
The third quarter started with Ivey Mutcherson receiving the second half kickoff and returning it to the Redskins’ 40, but the Redskin’s first possession of the second half ended in a three and out. The Mustangs took over for their first possession of the second half, but the determined Redskin defense recovered a Mustang fumble to give the Redskins the ball on South Effingham 3. A few plays later, Mutcherson, took the handoff from quarterback D.J. McElroy and busted around right end for a 19 yard touchdown run. Bryan County’s 2-point conversion try was good and the third quarter ended with Redskins leading 8-7 and the South Effingham crowd silent and shocked.
In the fourth quarter, both teams went back and forth trying to mount some offensive consistency, but each team’s defense stood in the way. With 10:02 on the clock South Effingham drove to the Redskin’s 8 yard line, but once again the Redskin defense raised their determined heads and held the Mustang to a 24-yard field goal.
The fourth quarter continued to be filled with jaw-rattling hits by the Redskin’s defense, led by Deandre Walker and Bostick – who laid a fourth down hit that made fans think thunder was back in the area.
"Justin showed tonight that he wants to be a leader for this team," Lewis said.
With 4:13 left in the 4th quarter, Bryan County could not put any points on the board and, with less than a minute left on the clock, the Mustangs punched in their final touchdown and the 17-8 win. Bostick and Walker led the defense with nine tackles each. Bostick led the Redskins in rushing with 67 yards on six carries will Mutcherson, who had 327 yards on 20 carries against Long County last week, finished with 42 yards on 21 attempts.
The close loss to the Mustangs – a perennial Class AAA playoff team in recent years – was Bryan County’s third in as many games. But Lewis was upbeat about his team’s prospects.
"We still feel good about our chances in the region and our goal is to host a region playoff game here," he said.