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ECI rolls past Metter at Erk Russell Classic
Emanuel County Institute running back Renaldo Williams finds the end zone against the Metter defense in the second quarter during the Erk Russell Classic at Georgia Southern University's Paulson Stadium on Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Box Score
                       ECI    MHS

First Downs        14         6
Rushing Yards    48-297   19-106       
Passing Yards    82          56
Total Yards        379        162
C-A-I                4-8-0    9-17-0
Turnovers                 1    0
Penalties               2-30    6-40

Individual Leaders
Rushing: ECI: Williams, 2-82.  MHS: Wright, 2-61, TD.
Passing: ECI: Pressey, 4-8, 82 yds., TD  MHS: Wedincamp, 9-17, 56 yds.
Receiving: ECI: Purcell, 3-67, TD. MHS: Lanier, 4-28.

ECI        7    21    7    7 — 42
MHS        0    0    0    7 — 7

1st Quarter
6:38 — Purcell (ECI) 2 run (Pressey kick)
2nd Quarter
9:35 — Sutton (ECI) 2 run (Pressey kick)
5:49 — Purcell (ECI) 58 pass from Pressey (Sutton run)
0:44 — Sutton (ECI) 6 run (Pressey kick)
3rd Quarter   
6:05 — Brown (ECI) 1 run (Pressey kick)
4th Quarter
11:50 — Robinson (ECI) 2 run (Pressey kick)
3:15 — Wright (MHS) 62 run (Martinez kick)

    High schools around the area hope that the Erk Russell Classic will be an event that people throughout the state will soon recognize, but the inaugural game is one that Metter would just as soon like to forget about.
    Emanuel County Institute ran wild throughout the evening, rolling to a 42-7 victory on Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
    For the Bulldogs (1-0), being the first ever champions of the Erk Russell Classic is hopefully the first step in another successful season.
    “What a great experience,” said ECI coach Chris Kearson. “It was awesome to be able to play in such a great venue and in front of a big crowd. It’s even better to get a win.”
    ECI had little trouble with Metter (0-1), outgaining the Tigers by a 379-162 margin, building a 28-0 halftime lead and playing out the final quarter with a running clock.
    The Bulldogs were led by senior quarterback Caleb Pressey — now in his third year under center. Pressey went 4-for-8 through the air including a 58 yard touchdown strike to Greg Purcell midway through the second quarter. The senior signal caller was also effective on his feet, rushing for 47 yards on four carries.
    “(Pressey) is our leader out there,” said Kearson. “We trust him to get the job done and he came up with a lot of big plays for us tonight.”
    A quartet of running backs pounded away at Metter’s defense as Purcell, James Brown, Michael Sutton and Renaldo Williams combined for 228 rushing yards.
    Purcell scored the first points of the year for ECI with a two yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game. Sutton added a pair of touchdown runs in the second quarter, with Purcell’s long receiving score sandwiched in between.
    “We had issues with giving up the big play,” said Metter coach Mike West. “I loved the effort that I saw from our defense, but we just couldn’t get off of the field. We had to play way too many snaps on the defensive side of the ball.”
ECI claimed much of the ball possession due to its swarming defense.
    Metter was able to break a few big plays and junior quarterback Jacob Wedincamp put up decent passing numbers (9-for-17, 56 yards), but the Tigers were forced to go three-and-out on four separate drives.
    “There were issues with blocking, with running routes, with a lot of things,” said West. “This is a young team and we fought hard, but we need to improve in a lot of areas.”
    Metter’s fortunes may have been a bit different if it had been allowed to keep the momentum it looked to have gained on the game’s opening drive.
    ECI drove into the red zone, but Sutton appeared to fumble the ball with Metter recovering on its own 6. But Sutton was ruled down by contact and Purcell pushed over the goal line two plays later.
    “I thought it was a fumble, but those are the breaks,” said West. “It would have been nice to force a turnover there, but there are a lot of other things we need to change as well.”
    Brown finished off the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half with a one yard scoring plunge. Zavier Williams capped the ECI scoring with a two yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
    Ernest Wright recorded the only Metter touchdown, blasting through the left side and outrunning the Bulldog defense for a 62 yard scoring rung.
    Both teams are off next week. On Sept. 7, Metter hosts Bacon County while ECI begins a three-game road trip at Washington County.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.