The ECI Bulldogs traveled to Claxton Friday night to knock pads with the Tigers, and it didn’t take long for ECI to show why they are a top 10 team in Class A.
On the opening kickoff, the Dawgs’ kickoff unit flew down the field and recovered a Claxton fumble. A steady dose of D.J. Jones and P.J. Farnum set the ball up inside the Tigers’ 5-yard line. The drive was capped off by a 1-yard run by Jones.
After a perfect PAT by Samuel McBride, the Bulldogs were up 7-0 early in the first.
For a 1-5 team, Claxton didn’t look bad at times. Following a 37-yard pass by Claxton, the Bulldog defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt by the Tigers. The Claxton kicker connected on a 36-yard field goal, making the score 7-3 ECI.
The Bulldogs had a long, punishing drive before a turnover on downs. After the Bulldog defense shutdown the Claxton offense, the Tigers began the second quarter with a punt. The Bulldogs again had a great drive going before a questionable referee call erased an ECI touchdown for a fumble after the runner crossed the goal line.
The following series saw the freshman phenom Brian Steele sack the Tigers’ quarterback, forcing another Claxton punt.
Jones followed with a 15-yard touchdown run. McBride tacked on the PAT and with 2:54 seconds left in the half, ECI stretched their lead to 14-3.
Following the kickoff, Hudson Henry continued to play phenomenal football and picked up a huge sack on third-and-7, forcing another Tiger punt. After a couple of penalties, ECI decided to let the clock run out ad take a 14-3 lead into halftime.
Opening the second half, ECI quarterback Bryce Kearson had a big 28-yard run, but following a false start ,the Bulldogs were forced to punt.
After a series of completions by the Claxton quarterback that tallied 73 yards, the Tigers found themselves deep in ECI territory. However, on third-and-goal, junior Tommy Dobson recovered a Claxton fumble to give the Bulldogs the ball on their own 13.
Following a 32-yard pass by Kearson and some big runs by Farnum and Jones, Kearson scored from 2 yards out with 6:57 to go in the game.
McBride connected on the PAT to give ECI 21-3 lead.
The Bulldogs had no trouble getting to the quarterback on the ensuing drive, but each time third-and-long came up, Claxton’s quarterback made a throw. The Tigers scored on a 7-yard touchdown and pulled within 11 after a successful PAT.
The Tigers attempted an onside kick with 5:49 left in the game, but the ball didn’t travel the required 10 yards and the Dawgs took over on their 42.
Brian Steele scored from 20 yards out after the drive was led by runs from Jones, Kearson, and Davon Edmonds. The PAT by McBride was true, and the Bulldogs went up 28-10 with 2:23 left in the game.
The Bulldog defense didn’t allow another first down and the clock ran out on the Tigers.
ECI improved to 6-1 on the year. Hudson and Hagan Henry both had stellar games for the Bulldogs. The offense was efficient, and the defense was very stingy, particularly in the second half. D.J. Jones led the way on the ground with 108 yards and 2 TDs. “The Mamba,” P.J. Farnum, also had 77 yards on the ground. ECI quarterback Bryce Kearson put up 60 passing yards as well as 60 rushing yards with a touchdown.
The 6-1 Bulldogs travel to Jenkins County next week to clash with the Eagles. Game time is 7:30 p.m.