ABBEVILLE — If Chesnee scored each time it reached the red zone, Abbeville’s season would have been in serious jeopardy.
However, field position means nothing against the Panthers’ defense.
Abbeville manhandled the Chesnee offense on three straight red-zone stands on the way to a 32-7 win against the Eagles and a spot in the Upper State championship.
“I’m really proud of the effort of our kids,” Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles said. “I thought our defense bent, but it didn’t break.”
Abbeville jumped out to a lead with rushing touchdowns from Navi Marshall and Martico Jackson in the first half. Jackson carried three defenders 15 yards as he toppled over the goal line on his second-quarter score.
In the third quarter, Chesnee carried a long drive of short runs inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line. Abbeville broke up a pass, then stopped the Eagles on fourth-and-short for a turnover on downs.
Chesnee again threatened to score after capitalizing on an Abbeville fumble inside the Panthers’ 30-yard line. The Panthers forced Chesnee into another turnover on downs.
The Panthers fumbled again on the ensuing drive, setting up Chesnee inside the Panthers’ 10 once again as the fourth quarter started. Jeremiah Lomax intercepted a pass on the goal line to snuff it out.
Lomax had two interceptions and a sack in the game.
The Panthers’ streak of in-state shutouts ended with just less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Chesnee quarterback Nyquille O’Fair ran 16 yards for a touchdown. Those points were the first scored against Abbeville this year by a South Carolina team.
Abbeville’s offense is typically steady, putting together long, rolling drives and breaking off long runs every few plays. Friday, however, the Panthers lost a rhythm in the second half and committed two consecutive fumbles.
“We were our own worst enemy at times,” Nickles said. “I’ll have to go back and look at the tape, but those are the mistakes where we really have to hone in and correct.”
Tyrell Haddon scored two touchdowns, one early in the second half and one late, on runs of 15 and 21 yards.
Just before Haddon’s second touchdown, defensive back Ty Cade intercepted a pass and returned it 65 yards to the end zone to make the score 25-0.
A rematch of last year’s third-round playoff gamel is in order, with Gray Collegiate beating Christ Church 33-0. The Panthers will host Gray Collegiate next Friday.
Abbeville never trailed during last year’s win against Gray, but had to fend off a late attempt at a game-winning drive.
“I know they’re really big, strong and fast from last year,” Nickles said. “It will be a big battle for us.”
Chesnee 0 0 0 7 — 7
Abbeville 6 6 6 14 — 32
A — Navi Marshall 20 run (kick failed)
A — Martico Jackson 41 run (conversion failed)
A — Tyrell Haddon 15 run (kick failed)
A — Ty Cade interception return (Addison Nickles kick)
C — Nyquille O’Fair 16 run (Ian Harris kick)
A — Haddon 21 run (Nickles kick)
Rushing — C: Camden Burns 12-103, Nyquille O’Fair 12-32, Dylan Bennett 1-32, Praise Edrington 11-28, Bryson Thompson 3-6, Michael Paslawski 1-5, Matthew Froemel 1-(-3). A: Navi Marshall 7-89, Tyrell Haddon 8-85, Martico Jackson 6-55, J’Marion Burton 5-41, Thomas Beauford 9-17.
Passing — C: Nyquille O’Fair 2-8-1-16, Camden Burns 0-5-2-0. A: Thomas Beauford 1-5-0-29.
Receiving — C: Camden Burns 2-16. A: Kelly Garner 1-29.
Records: Abbeville 9-0, Chesnee 7-2
Next game: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Gray Collegiate at Abbeville (Upper State Championship)