Bulldogs tame Tigers in Kearson’s debut

by | August 31, 2011 9:07 am

by CHRIS LEWIS

 

   Chris Kearson couldn’t have drawn a tougher

assignment in his first game as head coach of the ECI Bulldogs.

Earlier this year Kearson was promoted to replace previous head

coach Milan Turner who compiled an impressive 65-12 overall record

in his six seasons at ECI. In addition to following Turner’s

success, there was the added pressure of keeping the Bulldogs’

28-game home winning streak intact. And if that wasn’t enough,

cross-county rival Swainsboro, who the Bulldogs hadn’t defeated in

11 tries dating back to 1960, was the team on the other side of the

field.

   This night belonged to ECI as they scored early and often in

building a 28-0 lead that they wouldn’t surrender in defeating

Swainsboro by a score of 34-13. Wezley Ealey was the offensive star

as he rushed 12 times for 125 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Quarterback Caleb Pressey completed three passes for 108 yards and

a touchdown. The Bulldog defense was equally as impressive as they

surrendered only 188 total yards to the Tiger offense, with 71 of

those coming on the last play of the game.

   The Bulldogs wasted little time getting on the board in the

first quarter. After holding Swainsboro to a three-and-out on their

first possession, Ealey and ECI took over for their first

possession. Capping a 12-play, 73-yard drive, Ealey found a hole

and ran 16 yards for a touchdown. After a failed PAT the ECI lead

was 6-0 with 4:10 remaining in the opening quarter.

   Later in the first, after another Tiger three-and-out, Pressey

hit an open Renaldo Williams for a 33-yard completion that put ECI

in business at the Tiger 7-yard line. On the next play, Ealey got

loose again and scored on a 7-yard run. Pressey hit Williams again

with a 3-yard pass for a successful 2-point conversion to push the

Bulldog lead to 14-0 with 1:13 left in the first.

    After yet another Swainsboro drive that ended in a punt after

three plays, Williams took a Pressey handoff and scampered 27 yards

for another ECI touchdown. Pressey’s PAT stretched the Bulldog lead

to 21-0 with 9:25 remaining in the first half.

   Both teams failed to convert fourth down plays in opponents’

territory and then ECI went to work again. With time winding down

in the second quarter, Pressey found an open Laquan Lanier and hit

him for a 47-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Pressey

added the PAT and the Bulldogs took an improbable 28-0 lead with

:07 left in the half.

   Swainsboro got on the board late in the third when Shaquille

Cowart got in on a quarterback sneak from one yard out. Marcos

Batista added the PAT and the ECI lead was cut to 28-7 with 1:01

remaining in the third.

   In the final frame, Ealey put the finishing touches on a

patented ECI drive that killed over six minutes of the clock. On

the 14thplay of the drive, Ealey knifed through the defense and ran

for a 29-yard touchdown. After the PAT failed, the Bulldogs were up

by a score of 34-7 with only 6:25 remaining in the game. 

   On their next drive, the Bulldogs ran over five minutes off the

clock before turning the ball over to the Tigers with :05

remaining. On the final play of the game, Tiger running back

Deantae Johnson found an opening through the ECI JV defense and

raced 71 yards for a touchdown. The game ended right there with the

Bulldogs winning 34-13.

   “This win is special in so many ways,” said Kearson. “Number

one, it’s my first win as a head coach. It’s a big win on our home

field. 1959 was the last time ECI beat Swainsboro on any field, and

to do it here on our field in front of this crowd was amazing. I’m

just thankful to be the head coach of this football team.”

   ECI outgained Swainsboro in total yards 375-188. The Bulldogs

controlled the clock and had 14 first downs compared to six for the

Tigers. “We were really good tonight with ball control on offense,”

commented Kearson. “We took the ball and held it. We didn’t give

them much of a chance to do anything with it and our kids just

rallied.”

   The Bulldogs will now turn their attention to another group of

Tigers. ECI will try to extend their 29-game home winning streak

when they host the Claxton Tigers Friday night at Rountree Stadium.

Claxton defeated AA Tattnall County 25-8 in their opener last week.

The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

  • Bulldogs tame Tigers in Kearson’s debut
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