By SARAH K. SPENCER, Index Journal
Emerald collided with a garnet and gold brick wall and ricocheted backward.
In a 34-0 thrashing by Abbeville on Friday, the Panthers held the Vikings to 159 yards of offense, denying opponents an offensive touchdown through three wins.
Standing on new turf in Frank Hill Stadium’s end zone, Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles wouldn’t go as far to say his team, namely its defense, has hit its stride — that usually comes a little later in the season, he said, when the heat subsides and players have had more time to gel. But on a cool, overcast September night, it seems Abbeville might be getting there.
“I hope it’s not fool’s gold, because there’s a long way to go,” Nickles said. “I think we’re playing together as a unit in all three phases, your defensive line, your linebackers and your secondary. They have to work together and I’m proud of ’em so far this year.”
Panthers running back Cortney Jackson bookended the game with rushing touchdowns, busting in a run from seven yards out in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead and tearing 84 yards down the sideline in the fourth to seal the shutout.
Sandwiched between those scores was a dominant performance by the sophomore, helped along by a stout offensive line. Cortney Jackson rushed for 192 yards on 16 carries, beating three defenders who had an angle on him for a 45-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
On fourth down at Emerald’s 36-yard line, Abbeville lefty quarterback Jamie Gray connected with receiver Bryce Jackson on a 36-yard pass in the first, bringing the score to 14-0. An 11-yard end-around run by J.R. Rapley made it 21-0.
The Vikings struggled to piece together an offensive drive, but drove to the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter as running back Keshawn Settles, who came in and out of the game with a right ankle injury, broke tackle after tackle. With a chance to prevent a shutout, the ball was stripped by Bryce Jackson and Lamar Oakley, with Abbeville collectively recovering the goal-line fumble.
Emerald again came away scoreless.
Coach Tim McMahon said the Vikings had trouble physically and up front ? the running back duo of Trey Morton and Keshawn Settles combined for 102 yards on 19 carries.
“Give credit to them, they outplayed us,” McMahon said. “They’re farther along than we are, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
In 95 degrees or breezy sweater weather, the Panthers have yet to stumble.
Follow Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter @Sarah_K_Spencer
Score by quarter
A- Cortney Jackson 7 run (Cuttill kick)
A- Gray 36 pass to Bryce Jackson (Cutill kick)
A- Rapley 11 run (Cuttill kick)
A- Cortney Jackson 45 run (Cuttill miss)
A- Cortney Jackson 84 run (Cuttill kick)
Abbeville— Cortney Jackson 16-192-2, J.R. Rapley 5-36-1, T.J. Rogers 5-16, Jermaine Blackwell 7-19, Jamie Gray 9-43
Emerald —Keshawn Settles 9-80, Trey Morton 10-22, Zy Abercrombie 3-23, Drec Jones 4-6, Luke Deal 6-15
Abbeville —Bryce Jackson 4-90-1, J.R. Rapley 1-50
Emerald —Settles 1-8, Morton 2-7
Abbeville —Jamie Gray 5-9, 140 yards
Emerald — Jones 3-9, 15 yardsDeal 0-2