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ECI suvives tough test against Metter

    Unbelievable. Passionate. Heartbreaking. These are just some of the emotions Metter Tigers fans experienced Friday night in the 79th edition of the rivalry with Emanuel County Institute.
    Entering the game as a solid underdog, the Tigers played tough, giving the perenial state power from Twin City a scare before falling by a count of 21-15.
    The game began with ECI not producing anything and being forced to punt. Following an unnecessary roughness penalty, the Tigers began their season on their own 16 yard line. One play is all they would need on this drive as Antraveious Howard found a huge hole and took his first touch of the game to the house in an 84 yard sprint to open the scoring.
    The momentum would stay with Metter as on the very next drive for the Bulldogs, they would fumble setting up Metter up on ECI’s 31 yard line. Unable to capitalize due to a great defensive front by the Bulldogs and a sack by Curtis Fann Jr, Metter was forced to punt.
    Another 4-and-out by the Bulldogs would give the ball back to the Tigers, who went down and settled for a 35-yard field goal to make the game 9-0. Reminder: Metter hasn’t beaten ECI since 2013 and hasn’t won in “The Pound” since 2000.
    In response to Metter’s field goal, the Bulldogs had a nice 6 play, 63 yard drive ending in a 5 yard touchdown run from Eric Dixon.
    The next drive for Metter saw a different offense. After more spread option running from Birket Kennedy and Shamel Johnson, they went with a flawless jet sweep that gained 20 yards and looked impressive. The nearly 5-minute, 9-play drive only earned them 39 yards and the Tigers were forced to punt.
    On the punt, both teams were awarded unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and things began to get more unsettled throughout the rest of the half.
    Metter received to start the second half and returned to the jet sweep to Daeshaun Scott for 33 yards. This drive would stall out however thanks to two separate false start penalties.
    After the Bulldogs successive 4 and out, the Tigers would have an awesome 65 yard quarterback keeper touchdown run. Or so the Metter faithful hoped. A very late and highly questionable holding call would negate the touchdown and kill all momentum the Tigers had been building up.
    ECI responded with a 9 play drive of their own but was uneventful because of some more false start penalties. The Bulldogs next drive began with a 22 yard run that looked like it had to end in a lead-changing touchdown, but the next play held a fumble that the now desperate Tiger defense scooped up.
    Another failed drive for Metter gave the ball to the home team who knew exactly what to do with it and took it right down the field, in five excruciating minutes, to take a 14-9 lead. But the bleeding wouldn’t end there for Metter who gave up another touchdown to their rival with under two minutes to play.
    All hope would not be lost though as Daeshaun Scott took the following kickoff all the way back for a touchdown to make it a 21-15 game.
    But a failed onside kick sealed the win for the 1-0 ECI Bulldogs.
    Coach Chris Kearson credited his team. “They never flinched” even being on upset alert “they just knew something good would happen.” He joked that they “could’ve scored a couple more” had it not been for the turnovers in the redzone. “We have to get better” Kearson reiterated as they will have another big game next week at Swainsboro.