By: Michael Christopher, Index Journal
LINCOLN COUNTY, Ga. — Abbeville High School football coach Jamie Nickles at times thought he was watching an old boxing classic Friday night at Larry Campbell Stadium.
“They hit us in the mouth early and it took us a little while to recover,” the Panthers coach said. “I felt like I was watching a Frazier-Ali fight. They came out like Frazier smoking and hit us in the mouth early, and we were fortunate enough to go into half down just 7-0 to be honest with you.”
The unbeaten matchup between the No. 1 ranked Class 2A team in the Palmetto State traveled to face an undefeated (3-0) Lincoln County Red Devils team.
When all was said and done after 48 minutes, both teams still found themselves with a flawless record. Fans of each side will likely act as official judge of who really won, but the final result ended with a 7-7 tie after both coaches came to a mutual agreement to end the game.
“There was blood everywhere. You could see it, you could hear it, you could see it, you could feel it. It was just one heckuva football game,” Nickles said of the physicality of the game. “Hats off to Lincoln County, they’ve got a whale of a program. I told coach (Kevin) Banks I’m pulling him for him every game but one. But now, I’m pulling for him every game out.”
The Red Devils had a shot to win the game 43 yards from pay dirt with less than a minute to go, but an interception by Abbeville’s Tyrese Paul flipped the Panthers fortunes. After a 40-yard plus return, the Panthers got all the way down to the 27-yard line and set up a potential game-winning 37-yard field goal. Senior, and first-year kicker, Ethan Cuttill had his attempt blocked with less than four seconds to go.
“We give ourselves a shot there,” Nickles said. “First-year kicker, it’s a lot of pressure on him, but we give ourselves a shot there and that’ll be great experience for him down on the road.”
Coming into the contest, neither team had allowed an offensive touchdown to be scored on them for 12 quarters. That changed for the Panthers in the first quarter, as the Red Devils capitalized on their first offensive possession when quarterback Javon Reid converted a 4th and goal with a 4-yard touchdown run. Abbeville countered in late in the third as quarterback Jamie Gray took a 1-yard QB sneak in to tie the game.
Both teams had equal opportunities throughout the game, but Abbeville still holds on to its 11-game winning streak dating back to last season. The Panthers last lost came Oct. 2, 2015 against Strom Thurmond.
The Panthers had four offensive possessions in the first half — the first two possessions were punts, the third resulted in a turnover on downs and the last possession saw an interception in the end zone.
After the initial first half score, neither team found the end zone, but both had opportunities. The Red Devils dropped a pass in the end zone and missed a field goal attempt. Meanwhile, Abbeville’s Bobby Power had a potential score ripped away from him by Reid, who also plays corner, to end the first quarter.
The game was so physical that it was rumored the Red Devils lost their first two starting running backs. The Panthers suffered bumps and bruises as well, but Sterling Agnew hurt his right knee in the third quarter and did not return.
Follow Michael Christopher on Twitter @IJMCHRISTOPHER
Abbeville 0 0 7 0 — 7
Lincoln County 0 7 0 0 — 7
LC ? Javon Reid 4 run (William Leroy kick)
A ? Jamie Gray 1 run (Ethan Cuttil kick)
Rushing ? A: TJ Rogers 7-70, Jamie Gray 15-63, Cortney Jackson 10-32, JR Rapley 5-30; LC: Jamal Norman 7-37, Quay Hartfield 4-34, Javon Reid 8-32, Tydarius Elam 7-21, Midarious Roberts 1-5, Riccardo Hawes 2-1, Xavier Gartrell 1-1.
Passing ? A: Jamie Gray 8-18-0-65. LC: Javon Reid 6-11-1-86
Receiving ? A:TJ Rogers 3-36, Cortney Jackson 3-21. LC: Xavier Gartrell 3-86
Records ? Abbeville (3-0-1)