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Round one a breeze for ECI

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    TWIN CITY – Last season, the Bulldogs of Emanuel County rolled into the state playoffs as the top ranked team, only to walk away with a devastating first round loss. Ranked number one yet again this season, it is evident that they plan on sticking around a bit longer. The Bulldogs rolled to victory in their first round game against visiting Seminole County, pasting the Indians by a score of 49-23.
    “I just can’t say how proud I am of all our guys tonight,” said a jubilated Milan Turner, head coach of the Bulldogs. “Our players were outstanding. We played hard all night and were able to walk away with a victory over a very good team.”
    The Bulldogs were all over the Indians from the very start. In fact, the only period of the game in which Emanuel County did not hold the lead were fifteen seconds that it took junior running back Washaun Ealey to return the opening kickoff 95 yards to paydirt.
    While the entire Emanuel County team was firing on all cylinders, it was Ealey who single-handedly kept the Indians at bay. Six times, Ealey was able to go the distance, scoring once on the opening kick, again on a swing pass that turned into a 73 yard romp, and four more times on touchdown runs of 80, 73, 69 and 25 yards. Ealey personally accounted for 219 of Emanuel County’s 356 rushing yards as the Indian defense could never quite slow down the potent Bulldog attack.
    Seminole County had a chance to keep the score close in the first half, but hurt its own cause with costly penalties. Twice, senior quarterback Bicarri Rambo was able to slip past the Bulldog defense and race the length of the field.  However, both plays resulted in a holding call against the Indians, nullifying potential scoring runs of 81 and 65 yards, and keeping Seminole County off the scoreboard.
    Leading 29-0 at the half, the Bulldogs kept their foot on the gas. Emanuel scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half, needing just six total offensive plays to do so.  Seminole County was finally able to break though in the fourth quarter. The Indians notched three touchdown runs and a safety, but only after the game had been entrusted to the Emanuel County second string and a running mercy clock.
    “It does feel like we got a monkey off of our backs,” said Turner after the game in regards to last season’s early exit. “It feels good tonight, but our goal wasn’t just to get to the first round. We had a great week of practice and were very prepared tonight, and now we have to get right back to it and be ready for next week.”
    And so the Bulldogs will live on for another week. With the win, Emanuel County runs its record to 11-0 on the season. However, as the Bulldogs remember from last year, records and rankings mean nothing in the playoffs. Next Friday, the Bulldogs will play host to the winner of the Dooley County/Pacelli game.
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