For the second straight game the ECI Bulldogs were involved in another offensive and high scoring game in the state playoffs. And for the second straight game, the Bulldogs saw their first half lead slowly slip away in the second half. The Bulldogs traveled to Blakely Friday to face Early Co. in the second round of the state playoffs. The Bulldogs led 21-13 at halftime, but watched the Bobcats take a knee on the last play of the game, ending ECI’s season 43-34.
The two teams combined for 775 offensive yards, 355 for the Bulldogs and 423 for Early. ECI and Bobcats had 24 first downs each running a total of 102 plays. Both teams scored on their first possession of the game with the first quarter ending in a 7-7 tie. Hudson Henry put the Bulldogs up 7-0 bulling his way over on a 2 yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter on an Abb Marsh touchdown run. ECI added more points to their lead later in the quarter. Chase Johnson found the end zone from 6 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 21-7 with 3:56 left in the half. The Early Co. offense found a little life on the ensuing possession and put 6 on the board late in the second quarter. The extra point try was no good and the Bulldogs took a 21-13 lead in to the locker room.The Bobcats’ defense started crashing their linebackers in the second half and forced the Bulldogs on their first time with the ball in the third and a punt try for ECI.
The snap was a moon shot over the punters head, who ran down the ball but was tackled and fumbled. The Bobcats picked up the ball for a scoop and score an Early Co. touchdown.
Early Co. took their first lead of the game with 3:17 left in the third on an 8-yard TD run to lead the Bulldogs 28-21. The Bulldogs found the endzone late in the third quarter on a 8 yard run by Tuff Boddiford. After a Bobcat offside killed the good extra point try, they blocked the next try to make the score 28-27 Early Co. with 56 seconds left in the quarter.Early extended their lead in the fourth quarter on an 11 yard run and with a successful 2 point try, they led the Bulldogs 36-27.
The Bulldogs went to the air on their next drive and closed the gap later in the fourth. Jackson Kennedy hit a covered Chase Johnson in the corner of the endzone who held on to make the score 36-34 with the Bobcats holding on to a two-point lead. With the Bulldogs looking to make a stop and put on another possible game winning drive, the Bobcat halfback broke a couple of tackles and took it to the house on a 74 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 43-34.The Bulldogs drove from their own 30 to the Early Co. 12 late in the fourth quarter. The stalled drive resulted in a missed FG. The Bobcats took over and ran out the clock to end the Bulldogs’ season.The Bulldogs rushed for 193 yards with Hudson Henry 77 yards and Tuff Boddiford 73 yards, the leading rushers.
Jackson Kennedy was 9-12 for 162 yards. James Parker caught 5 for 59 yards. Ab Marsh grabbed 2 for another 59 yards, with Hudson Henry and Chase Johnson catching one pass each.
All region 3 teams’ season ended Friday. All 3 were leading at halftime but lost in the second half. Jenkins lost to Dooly while Portal’s season was ended by Telfair Co. The Bulldogs lose just four seniors off this second round squad. Playing as many as 5 freshmen on offense for most of the year, look for the Bulldogs to make a deeper run in the state playoffs the next few seasons.
The Bulldogs will have some new and familiar faces in region 3 next season as the region expands from 5 teams to eight. Instead of 6 non region games for the last 2 years, the Bulldogs will have to find just 3 next season with 7 region games. More on next season’s region opponent later.