ECI's game plan Friday night turned him into the high school football equivalent of Mariano Rivera. Ealey was kept in reserve for most of three quarters Friday night in a Georgia High School Association Class A quarterfinal matchup with Warren County.
Ealey had just six carries and 19 yards in the first half. No matter. He gained 189 second-half rushing yards and nailed down the victory with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pave the way for a 34-17 victory.
"I felt fresh," Ealey said. "I was just trying to be a team player and play my fakes out to open everyone else up. When the fourth quarter came around I was ready to roll."
Ealey's first touchdown of the night came from 26 yards out and gave ECI a 19-17 lead. His second was an 81-yard burst with 1:27 left to play that closed out the game. It was all part of a stretch where Ealey carried the ball 13 out of 16 plays.
He ran for 168 yards on those final 13 carries.
"People are keying on him," ECI coach Milan Turner said. "He holds the touchdown record in the state of Georgia. We know that. So we tried to use it a little bit to our advantage early. Try to rotate some other backs in there. Open up some other holes some of the other backs. Because we knew in the second half we were going to ride that horse all the way through and it paid off."
That proved to be the Devils' undoing. Warren County led 17-13 when ECI brought Ealey out of the pen.
It coincided with a key point in the game where Warren County saw two of its defensive starters leave the field with injuries.
"We just defensively ran out of gas and ran out of bodies," Warren County coach Lee Hutto said. "We had two of our starters get hurt and didn't do a good job of tackling. But give all that credit to that other football team. That's a great team. We had two starters out and we subbed them in with two freshman. When you do that, you are really in trouble. One was a defensive end and the other one was our defensive tackle. One of those guys was our best defensive player."
Warren County senior Tommy Seals threw for 199 yards on 21 passing attempts. He was hemmed in on the ground to only gain 38 yards on 16 carries.
"That's a tough team right there," Seals said. "That's a tough defense to crack. They weren't giving us much of anything. I think that team may just go all the way and win the state."
Warren County finishes 10-3.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
EMANUEL COUNTY INSTITUTE 34, WARREN COUNTY 17
Warren County 0 7 10 0 -- 17
ECI 6 0 7 21 -- 34
E--Brooks Kirkland 3 run (kick failed), 10:35
WC--Snoop Johnson 1 run (Antonio Benton kick), :16
WC--Van Williams 31 field goal, 7:06
E--Nick Cross 7 pass from Brooks Kirkland (Will Hinson kick), 3:34
WC--Travis Burley 80 pass from Tommy Seals (Antonio Benton kick), 1:29
E--Washaun Ealey 26 run (kick blocked), 11:19
E--Brooks Kirkland 1 run (pass successful), 4:43
E--Washaun Ealey 81 run (kick (Will Hinson kick), 1:27
First Downs WC15 ECI17
Rushes-Yards WC43-168 ECI41-329
Passing Yards WC199 ECI69
Comp.-Att.-Int. WC9-21-1 ECI4-10-0
Fumbles-Lost WC3-0 ECI1-0
Punts-Yards WC3-118 ECI3-120
Penalties-Yards WC5-40 ECI6-77
RUSHING--Warren County: Kentrell Latimore 12-79, Tommy Seals 16-38, Snoop Johnson 9-36, Devarrus Reynolds 3-11, Coby Reynolds 2-3, Van Williams 1-2. ECI: Washaun Ealey 22-208, Nick Cross 13-88, Sanquez Lee 2-32. Brooks Kirkland 4-1.
PASSING--Warren County: Tommy Seals 9-21-1 199. ECI: Brooks Kirkland 4-10-0 69.
RECEIVING--Warren County: Travis Burley 4-101, Coby Reynolds 1-41, Tay Erwin 1-34, Quay Lester 1-11, Van Williams 1-6, Devarrus Reynolds 1-6. ECI: Washaun Ealey 1-56, Nick Cross 1-13.
PLAY OF THE GAME: It came on fourth-and-3 at the Warren County 5 with 5:16. ECI standout Washaun Ealey picked up four yards. The Bulldogs went up 25-17 on the next play.
WHY ECI WON: The fourth quarter. The Bulldogs scored three times.
WHY WARREN COUNTY LOST: Depth. The Screaming Devils led 17-13 with 1:29 left to go in the third quarter. They lost two defensive starters because of injuries the rest of the way. It was no coincidence that ECI closed out the game with a 21-0 run.
STAR OF THE GAME: Ealey. He ended up with 208 rushing yards on 22 carries. His second touchdown of the second half was an 81-yard gallop with 1:27 left to play that put the game on ice.
WHAT'S NEXT: Warren County finished its season with a 10-3 record.