SYLVANIA, Ga. - Screven County showed potential on offense in its first three games this season, but was unable to produce many big plays.
The top-ranked Gamecocks finally did that Friday night in a 32-13 victory over South Effingham in the Region 2-AAA opener for both teams at Kelly Memorial Stadium.
Michael Scott rushed for 226 yards on 18 carries and scored one touchdown, while James Howard added 100 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead Screven to 368 yards on the ground.
Howard scored on runs of 5 and 15 yards and had an 87-yard pass reception for a touchdown as the defending state Class AAA champions improved to 4-0 with their 32nd straight regular-season victory.
"This is what we had to do," Screven County coach Mark Daniel said. "We had to start moving the ball, making some offense and doing the right thing. We finally put it together."
Screven, which won its first three games by a combined nine points, ripped off five runs over 35 yards. Scott had runs of 51, 57 and 60 yards to set up three touchdowns. Howard added a 44-yard run and Terel Parrish a 37-yard run.
"We had a little bit of speed advantage on that team, so you've got the potential for big plays," Daniel said. "But you've got to block them right. When you finally block them right, you start moving the ball."
South Effingham (2-1) dominated field position in the first half. The Mustangs started on the Screven's 9, 47 and 40 and their own 41 and 43. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, started from their own 20 four times and inside their own 10 twice as the result of booming kicks by Patrick Bolen, who also had field goals of 50 and 53 yards.
Down 7-0 in the first quarter, the Gamecocks answered with an eight-play, 80-yard drive after the ensuing kickoff with Howard scoring on a 5-yard with 5:03 left, keyed by Scott's 57-yard run. But Robert Thompson as South Effingham held onto a 7-6 lead.
Bolen missed a 46-yard field goal on the Mustangs' next possession. But he came back to make a 53-yard with 5:35 left in the second quarter, despite a bad snap, to give South Effingham a 10-6 lead.
Screven, however, went 80 yards in six plays on its next possession with 2:59 left to take a 13-10 lead at halftime. Howard scored from 15 yards out after a 51-yard run by Howard.
The Gamecocks then scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter on Parrish's 37-yard run and Waters' 87-yard pass to Howard to go ahead 25-10.
"Defensively, we were on the field too long and we're awfully young," South Effingham coach Bob Herndon said. "We played well in the first half, but they eventually wore us down."
On the long runs by Scott and Howard, Herndon said, "We hit them at the line of scrimmage. But those two backs - they're pretty tough."
SCREVEN COUNTY 32, SOUTH EFFINGHAM 13
First Downs 515
Passing Yards 084
South Effingham 7330-13
Screven County 67127-32
First Quarter SE-Larry Hall 3 run (Patrick Bolen kick) 8:48
SC-James Howard 5 run (kick failed) 5:03
Second Quarter SE-Bolen 53 FG, 5:35
SC-Howard 14 run (Robert Thompson kick) 2:59
Third Quarter SC-Terel Parrish 37 run (kick failed) 9:11
SC-Howard 86 pass from Michael Waters (kick failed) 5:46
SC-Bolen 50 FG, 1:11
Fourth Quarter SC-Michael Scott 6 urn (Thompson kick) 3:31
RUSHING-South Effingham: Johnny Mercer 17-56, Hall 12-34, Brandon McCreery 6-13. Screven County: Scott 18-226, Howard 12-100, Parrish 4-67.
PASSING-South Effingham: Michael key 0-6-0 0. Screven County: Waters 2-5-0 84.
RECEIVING-Screven County: Howard 1-86, Scott 1-(-2).
Records: Screven County 4-0, Region 1-0 2-AAA. South Effingham 2-1, 0-1