The ECI Bulldogs and Vidalia Indians have played the last four years in the regular season and each game has been close a contest. Friday’s game against the Indians was no different.
The Bulldogs defeated ninth ranked Vidalia in their season opener at Buck Cravey Field 17-14. The difference in the game was a Samuel McBride 23 yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.
The win was a team effort on both sides of the ball with the Bulldogs rushing for 295 yards, 341 total, while the defense held the Indians to just 90 on the ground and 222 total yards.
“The team that showed up against Savannah Christian showed up again Friday night against Vidalia”, commented coach Kearson when asked about his team’s performance. We were able to move the ball offensively, we had stops on defense and we had some turnovers that definitely helped. I’m proud of the fight and the ability to not lose our composure when it seemed the momentum had switched in the second half.”
With the Bulldogs deferring to the second half the kickoff team got the first break of the game when Vidalia mishandled the bouncing kickoff. The Bulldogs pounced on the loose ball to set up ECI at the Indian 32 yard line.
The Bulldogs couldn’t take advantage of the excellent field position after getting behind the chains on a holding penalty and the Indians only sack of the night.
Vidalia took over at their own 25 after a Bulldog punt and had a promising drive in the process before Indian QB Bryce Davis fumbled, giving the ball back to ECI deep in their own territory at their own 4 yard line with 2:38 left in the first.
The Bulldog offense pounded the ball out to their own 16 yard line as the first quarter ended using a combination of big man DJ Jones and speedster PJ Farnum.
On fourth and three at their own 33 early in the second quarter on the same drive, the Bulldogs surprised the Indians picking up 31 yards on a fake punt to extend the drive.
ECI put the first points on the board 5 plays later when Jones scored on a one yard run after the 96 yard drive.
The special teams made another break for their offense on the ensuing kickoff forcing another Indian fumble with ECI getting the ball back at the Vidalia 47.
The Bulldogs drove it down to the Indian 14. On second and 10 Farnum fumbled the ball trying to stretch it over the goal line. Davond Edmond, making a heads up play, dived on the ball for another Bulldog TD. ECI led 14-0 with 5:47 left in the half.
The Indians started the last drive of the second quarter at the 38 and moved it down to the ECI 22 with 28 seconds left in the half to set up a late field goal try. The kick was wide left with the Bulldogs leading the Indians 14-0 at the half.
Neither team were able to surmount any scoring drives in the third quarter. The Bulldog defense limited the Indians to just 16 yards on 8 plays in the quarter.
Unable to move the ball on the ground except for QB draws and keepers, the Indians found success through the air to score their first points of the game. The EP try was blocked by Kris Jackson making the score 14-6 Bulldogs with 9:11 left in the game.
What the Bulldogs needed next was a time consuming drive with points to take away any momentum the Indians gained on their scoring drive.
They got what they needed taking 5 minutes off the clock with the Bulldogs getting big chunks of yardage on the ground having just one third down in the 10 play drive. On fourth and 5 from the Indian 6, McBride’s 23 yard field goal split the uprights to put the Bulldogs up 17-6 with 4:03 left in the game.
Vidalia scored the last points of the game with Davis calling his own number from 4 yards out. The two point play was good and the Bulldogs held a 17-14 lead with 2:30 left in the game.
The Bulldogs recovered the Indian onside kick and ran out the clocking taking the victory formation at the Indian 19 to seal the win.
Farnum led the rushing attack for ECI carrying the ball 22 times for 143 yards. Jones also passed the century mark with 111 yards on 17 carries.
Bryce Kearson was 3-4 for 46 yards with Farnum catching 2 balls and Jackson making one acrobatic grab.
The Bulldogs have been flying under the radar so far this season but slipped into the top 10 at number 8 in the AJC class A polls this week.
ECI have a much needed Friday off this week to heal up some banged up players. They will return to action and start region play when they host Screven Co. on September 17 at Rountree Stadium.