In a game marred by 200 yards in penalties, the ECI Bulldogs took advantage of a turnover and long sustained drives to knock off the Vidalia Indians 14-8 Friday night in Twin City. The Indians’ loss spoiled the debut of new Indian Coach Jason Cameron, who was disappointed with the loss but not the effort. “I thought we played hard tonight, but we made too many mistakes and allowed ECI to control the tempo, and that is something we cannot do. But tomorrow is another day and, we will go back to work and get better.”
The night got off to a rough start for the Vidalia offense, who went three and out on their first two possessions. In fact, the Indians lone first down of the half came on their third possession of the game and left them running only 19 plays in the first half, “that can’t happen,” said Cameron. “We have to do better executing all around. We had some opportunities tonight, and we didn’t execute the way that I know, and the players know we can.”
ECI, who dominated the time of possession by 12 minutes in the first half, scored their first touchdown of the night in the 2nd quarter, finishing a nine-play 64-yard drive with a 22-yard pass from Chase Whitehead to Kris Jackson on 3rd down. It was the third conversion of the first half, and following the extra point, the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 10:51 to go in the half.
Neither team could put any more points on the board for the next 10 minutes, but ECI ate up almost 4 minutes off the clock during the next possession before turning the ball over on downs with just a little over 2 minutes to go in the half.
In the 2nd half, the Bulldogs started where they left off, chewing up yardage behind the running of DJ Jones and the arm of Whitehead. But the Indians defense stiffened and forced the Dogs to punt. However, the Indians couldn’t move the ball and would kick the Bulldogs deep in their own territory.
The third quarter would end with neither team establishing any scoring drives, and heading into the 4th quarter ECI still led 7-0.
The Indian defense would set up what turned out to be the difference in the game. After stopping the ECI offense with two sacks from Jacoby Washington and bruising hits from Jaylin Burns, the Bulldogs were forced to punt from their 16-yard line with Bryce Kearson standing inside his 10-yard line. The punt sailed out to the 50-yard line where Antrevion Williams tried to field the kick on the run, but couldn’t control possession, giving the ball to ECI at midfield.
A few plays later, PJ Farnum followed blocking to his left and then cut across the field, outrunning defenders to the goal line for a 45-yard score, and with the extra point, ECI led 14-0 with 7:15 to go in the game.
But the Indians refused to give up and put together a scoring drive on the following possession that brought the Indian crowd to their feet. Following a kick return to their 45-yard line, the Indians used the running of Jayden Stanley and Bryce Davis to get the offense in gear. On runs of 17 yards by Davis and bruising power running by Stanley (12 for 49 yds), the Indians completed a six-play 55-yard drive with Stanley taking it in from 16 yards out to make the score 14-6. The drive lasted only 45 seconds, and following the TD, Bryce Davis scored on a 2 point conversion to close the lead to 14-8 with 6:30 left in the game.
The Indian defense would once again come up big, forcing an ECI punt from their 49-yard line. But Kearson would nail a 50-yard punt that was knocked out of bounds at the Vidalia 1 by a hustling ECI cover man.
The Indians would get one first down during the last possession, but a 4th down conversion try fell incomplete, and ECI would take over on downs and run the clock out to end the game.
On the night, the Indians were outgained 273 to 127 and trailed in time of possession 36:39 to 11:21. Stanley led the way on the ground with 49 yards and the TD, while Davis ended the night with 27 yards. Davis was also 8 for 20 through the air for 50 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Burns led the way with 15.5 tackles, while Washington was credited with two sacks.
The Indians, who are now 0-1, will host Bleckley County, a 44-6 winner over South Atlanta on Friday night at Buck Cravey Field. Game time is set for 7:30, with Senior Night festivities taking place beforehand. All fans are encouraged to purchase your tickets online here to avoid lines at the gate. Also, all in attendance are encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Look for FAN Instructions on this website beginning next week.