Controversy surrounded Effingham County and Evans the last time the two schools met, and it seemed after Friday's game that the two can't play a game without contention.
Effingham County's Anthony Wright is caught by Evans' Matt Stark during the second quarter in Evans. The Knights won Friday night's game 20-17.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Evans (5-2, 3-1) overcame the controversy rather than creating it, though, with a 20-17 win. It was the first meeting between the teams since the 1987 state playoffs which Evans had to forfeit, despite winning 12-10, after using an illegal headset in the quarterback's helmet.
On Friday night, the Rebels (3-4, 1-3) missed a 32-yard field goal with 16 seconds to play in the game, giving Evans the win.
Effingham County drove 45 yards on the final drive, which was extended by two controversial penalties called on the Knights.
On a third-and-18, an Evans defender was called for a late hit on Rebels quarterback Steven Proctor. The hit appeared to be clean, while Proctor still had one foot in bounds.
That gave Effingham County a fourth-and-8, but Evans was called for pass interference on an uncatchable pass to give the Rebels a first down.
Those weren't the only controversial calls.
Before the half, Effingham County running back Antwan Wright took a handoff in his own end zone and was stopped for an apparent safety. When he was hit he tossed the ball forward, but no penalty was called.
"The refs told us that it was a judgement call," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "We won, so I'm not going to worry about it."
The calls nearly overshadowed a gutsy performance by Evans, who were largely without star running back Cheng Ho, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter.
"Anytime a player like Cheng Ho goes down, you get a little worried," quarterback Brad Freeman said. "But we persevered, and that says a lot about our team."
Despite jumping out to a 7-0 lead after a Freeman to Shawn Ward touchdown, the Knights fell behind 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Evans didn't look like it could recover after relinquishing the lead, especially with the Knights picking up only three first downs in the first three quarters.
"We weren't very efficient," Freeman said. "But we kept plugging away, and we showed that we have a lot of weapons."
The weapons Freeman referred to were senior wide outs Tim Steflik and Ryan Crislip.
Steflik made a diving catch on third-and-18 to extend the drive after Evans fell behind 17-10 on a 76-yard reverse pass from Greg Jodrey to Josh Stokes.
Three plays later, Freeman connected with Crislip for a 12-yard gain that Crislip broke for a 33-yard touchdown.
"I stayed composed, and when I caught the ball I knew I could score," Crislip said. "The field was wide open."
After a botched snap on a punt by the Rebels on their own 34, Evans got into field-goal range and Reid Tankersley drilled a 31-yard field goal to give Evans a 20-17 lead with 2:34 to play.
"We took that lead, and our defense stepped up," Jackson said. "That is all I could ask for."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.