|Abbeville Panther co-captains, from left, Keenan Gilchrist (85), DaMichael Laster (75), O'Bryan Wilson (2) and Dillon Holliday (62) meet the Mid Carolina co-captains at midfield before Friday night's contest at Newberry.|
|Senior defensive back Joshua Martin had a big night for the Abbeville Panthers in a 37-0 victory over Mid Carolina. Martin returned a fumble for a touchdown, intercepted a pass and was involved in numerous tackles during the game.|
First Downs -- Abbeville 18, Mid Carolina 10
Rushes-Yds. -- Abbeville 42-254, Mid Carolina 40-136
Passing -- Abbeville 3-2-0, Mid Carolina 9-0-1
Passing Yds. -- Abbeville 26, Mid Carolina 0
Total Yds. -- Abbeville 280, Mid Carolina 136
Fumbles-Lost -- Abbeville 1-0, Mid Carolina 2-2
Penalties-Yds. -- Abbeville 5-45, Mid Carolina 0-0
Rushing -- Abbeville, O'Bryan Wilson 8-76 TD, C.J. Martin 14-62 TD, Tron Morton 9-38, DaShaun Harris 4-35, Sylvester Harris 4-27 TD, Kelly Bryant 2-12, Da'Vantai Walton 1-4; Mid Carolina, Nick Sims-Metts 16-52, Ben Chandler 9-52, Dante Boyd 5-13, R.J. Boyd 3-11, Chris Lindler 3-9, C.J. Wicker 2-5, Matthew Hawkins 2-(-6).
Passing -- Abbeville, Kelly Bryant 3-2-0 26 yds. TD; Mid Carolina, Matthew Hawkins 8-0-1 0 yds., Austin Shealy 1-0-0 0 yds.
Receiving -- Abbeville, O'Bryan Wilson 1-16, Cody White 1-10 TD; Mid Carolina, None.
PROSPERITY – The Class AA, Region 2 crown was the prize and the Abbeville Panthers were up to the task, taking a convincing 37-0 victory over Mid Carolina and winning the school’s seventh straight conference championship.
“It’s a credit to our kids and our coaches for all their hard work,” Abbeville Head Football Coach Jamie Nickles said after the game.
The Panthers brought an unblemished region mark into the game and knew that since its chief foes for the region title, Newberry and Batesburg-Leesville, were squaring off Friday night, the championship was theirs to be had with a win.
Abbeville got off to a good start against the Rebels as the defense forced Mid Carolina to punt after only three plays in its first possession.
The Panthers took over at its own 41 and marched 59 yards in only five plays to get on the board with less than 4 minutes gone in the game.
Seniors would figure prominently in the outcome of this contest and the key play of Abbeville’s first drive was a 38-yard scamper around left end by senior running back O’Bryan Wilson. Senior running back C.J. Martin capped the drive with a 6-yard scoring run with 8:17 to go in the first quarter. The extra point was missed, but Abbeville led, 6-0.
Mid Carolina never really mounted a serious scoring drive in the entire contest, but threatened to answer the Panther score, driving down to the Abbeville 32. Facing fourth-and-4, the Rebels came up short and turned the ball over on downs after running 13 plays and taking more than 6 minutes off the clock.
The Panthers took over at their own 30 and drove 70 yards in 14 plays for their second touchdown. No play during the drive went for more than 10 yards, but Abbeville kept moving the chains until O’Bryan Wilson scored from a yard out with 8:36 left in the first half. A two-point conversion failed, leaving Abbeville with a 12-0 lead.
Abbeville’s defense again held Mid Carolina on a fourth-down conversion and took over at its own 48 with 7:01 left in the second quarter. A 14-yard run by O’Bryan Wilson moved the Panthers into Rebel territory and seven plays later, sophomore quarterback Kelly Bryant threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Cody White to get Abbeville on the board again. The Panthers lined up to kick the extra point, but holder Levi Culbreath, another senior, took the ball after it was snapped and found Cody White in the end zone to successfully complete a 2-point conversion. Abbeville’s lead was 20-0 with 3:10 remaining in the first half.
Mid Carolina took to the air after the ensuing kickoff, throwing five times during its next possession. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the only pass that was completed was to Panther senior defensive back Joshua Martin with 5.9 seconds left before halftime.
The Panthers received the opening kickoff of the second half, but were forced to punt after five plays. Mid Carolina took over at its own 44 and on the second play of the drive senior defensive end Keenan Gilchrist and junior defensive back De’Andre Hurley pounced on the Rebel quarterback, who fumbled.
Joshua Martin picked up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown. Senior kicker Luke White added the PAT and Abbeville was up 27-0 with 8:26 to go in the third quarter.
Mid Carolina drove into Panther territory on its next drive, but again turned the ball over on downs. Abbeville ran 11 plays and got as close as the Rebel 5, but a couple of penalties forced the Panthers to attempt a field goal. Luke White booted the 27-yard attempt through the uprights to extend Abbeville’s lead to 30-0 with 7:54 left in the contest.
The Rebels fumbled on the first play of their next drive and Panther senior defensive lineman Dre Young recovered the ball at the Mid Carolina 17. Four plays later, sophomore running back Sylvester Harris scored from 12 yards out. Luke White added to the PAT to increase Abbeville’s advantage to 37-0 with 4:21 remaining in the game.
Nickles said with the region championship secured, Abbeville is probably looking at a number two seed in the playoffs and a likely first-round bye.
Still, there is one more regular season game to be played, next week at Ninety Six.
“We crossed the finish line for the region championship to advance,” Nickles said. “Luckily, we had the studs on our team to get there first.”