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Gamecocks fall short in opener

 SYLVANIA -- Effingham County’s visiting Rebels ran off to a 21-0 third quarter lead and held off any comeback attempts by the Screven County Gamecocks to win 28-14 in front a large crowd at Kelly Memorial Stadium. A game that featured the debut of Rick Tomberline for the Rebels and Greg Manior for the Gamecocks featured an inordinate amount of first-game mistakes, with the Rebels overcoming theirs the most often and the most effectively.

            The Rebels might have put the game away as they took the second half kick and drove 38 yards for a score following a long kick off return. Jaylon Cook snared a 16 yard pass from Aaron Griffin with 8:43 on the third quarter clock.  Griffin also hurled a two-point conversion to Chris Howell to make it 21-0.

            Down but not out, the home team then drove 68 yards in 17 plays using the remainder of the third quarter to score when sophomore fullback Jeremy Johnson bulled in from nine yards out. After a failed PAT, the Gamecocks got the ball right back when Alex Mingle recovered a Rebel fumble at the Rebel 48-yard line.  With a chance to get back in the game, the Roosters went backwards 18 yards in three plays before Effingham’s Michael Hamilton returned a Dylan Davis punt 66 yards for a score to “officially” put the game out of reach.

            Davis put up a score for the Gamecocks on a ten yard run with 5:20 remaining before Aikeem Mingle went for the two-pointer.  SCHS never got the ball back.

In a first half that saw Effingham compile better than 200 yards on the ground without a single yard through the air and lead 13-0, it was the Gamecocks who had the first scoring chance. On the strength of a 44-yard Dylan Davis (2-54) run and a 26 yard Rodderick Grace (11-84) run, SCHS found itself first and goal from the four. On fourth and goal from the 14 Jessica Markovcic’s 31-yard field goal attempt sailed wide.

            Effingham promptly drove 80 yards in just seven plays to score when Dyone Youmans drove in from the one. Quarterback Griffin apparently scored earlier on a 68 yard run, but an illegal block at the eight negated it. The penalty did not deter the visitors.  Griffin was not to be denied on his next carry on the team’s next possession, a 50-yarder that came immediately after a Gamecock fumbled snap at midfield.  The fumble came on a fourth and one gamble by Manior. Joe Thompson kicked the PAT after the first score.

            After reaching the four on their second possession of the night SCHS did not threaten again in the half.