PETTICOAT JUNCTION — Pedro Zambrano might have been the smallest player on the field, but he clearly had the biggest leg.
The 5-foot-7, 145-pound Silver Bluff place-kicker won the game with a 40-yard field goal with 6.4 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a thrilling 31-29 homecoming victory over Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
The Region 5-AA opener for both teams came down to Zambrano’s leg after both sides took turns controlling the game.
“We won the first half, and they won the second half,” Silver Bluff coach Al Lown said. “But we won the last 13 seconds.”
Zambrano, who secluded himself on the sideline as the Bulldogs drove into position for the game-winning kick, stretched, gave himself a pep talk, then trotted onto the field for what ended up being the longest field goal of his career.
“I knew it was probably going to come down to my kick,” he said. “I was telling myself, ‘Focus. You got this. This is in your range.’ Once we get to the 30 or 35, that’s my comfortable area. I didn’t even know how far it was. I was just trying to get it there.”
The senior kicker saved the game for the Bulldogs, who blew a 28-7 lead by giving up 22 consecutive points in the second half.
Silver Bluff (5-1) dominated the first half, scoring on its first four possessions. The Bulldogs opened the game with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a broken play that turned into a touchdown. Quarterback Jalen Jackson dropped back to pass on third-and-10 but couldn’t find an open receiver.
He instead scrambled right, pumped faked away a would-be tackler and ran untouched into the end zone from 17 yards out.
After Jaylen Lawrence intercepted the first pass attempt of the night by Bamberg-Ehrhardt’s Sumner Cooler, Silver Bluff needed just one play to capitalize. R.J. Stallings covered 35 yards for a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs piled on in the second quarter with rushing touchdowns from Myles Corbitt and Shaquez Wright to take a 28-14 halftime lead.
But Bamberg-Ehrhardt rallied in the second half with a renewed effort in the running game and a staunch defense to take a 29-28 lead with 8:34 left.
The Red Raiders limited Silver Bluff to just 10 total yards of offense in the second half before the final drive. Two offsides penalties from the Bulldogs’ defense on fourth-and-short also fueled Bamberg-Ehrhardt’s comeback.
Tailbacks Devondree Williams and Demetrius Odom combined for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries for the Red Raiders (5-1), who had won 12 consecutive regular season games.