Of Patrick Brown’s 326 yards Friday night, perhaps his most significant came in the final 7 seconds of the first half.
The South Effingham senior took a handoff, with the intention of running out the clock in the first half, but found a crease and shot through the Richmond Hill defense for a 54-yard touchdown run. The score put the Mustangs in front by 16 points, giving South Effingham needed breathing room in a 44-30 win over the Wildcats.
With the win, the Mustangs improved to 6-1 on the year and 4-1 in Region 3-AAAAA. Richmond Hill slipped to 3-4 overall and 2-4 in the region.
“We’re just a very young team,” said Wildcats coach Matt LeZotte. “They’re benefiting from having the age on their side, and we’re the exact opposite.”
Brown’s 4-yard touchdown run just two minutes into the second half pushed South Effingham’s lead to 30-7, and senior quarterback Tyler Pullum lofted a perfectly-thrown fade pass for T.J. Williams for a 39-yard score on the next possession.
“Any time you can break something on a last play, that kills the momentum they might have going into the half,” SEHS head coach Donnie Revell said. “And on top of that, getting the ball and being able to do something with it takes something out of them. But tribute to them – they kept fighting. But our kids made plays when we had to.”
Down 37-7, the Wildcats started to chip away at the mountainous deficit. Brian Hughes’ 45-yard ramble set up his 6-yard touchdown run with 9:41 left to play.
Tyler Milbradt blocked Sheldon Froeliech’s punt, setting up the Wildcats at the Mustang 14-yard line. That led to Hughes’ 20-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Bedgood.
Richmond Hill then recovered the onside kick, leading to Hughes’ 1-yard TD run with 1:10 to play.
“It’s a tribute to their staff and their kids that they never quit,” Revell said of the Wildcats. “They fought hard. The Hughes kid is a great athlete and made some great plays.”
LeZotte was encouraged by his team’s determination in the final quarter, scoring three touchdowns in just more than eight minutes.
“But we continue to fight, crawl back and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys’ effort late in the game,” he said.
The Wildcats’ night took a bad turn on the first snap from scrimmage, when a mishandled exchange gave the Mustangs the ball at the Richmond Hill 14. That led to the first of Brown’s five touchdowns.
South Effingham also picked off Hughes twice in the second half.
“We’re where South Effingham was two years ago, so we’re bound to make some mistakes and do some silly things,” LeZotte said.
Hughes led the Wildcats with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The junior quarterback also completed 9 of 20 passes for 92 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Bedgood caught four of Hughes' passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Kywann Green led the RHHS defense with eight tackles, including one for loss, and an interception.
Richmond Hill will host Brunswick next Friday at 7:30 p.m. It will be homecoming at Wildcat Stadium.