I think many of us had a preconceived notion that the Liberty game was going to be a cake walk. That was not the case at all. Liberty is a much improved team, with a big, strong, physical defense. They will make a run in the playoffs this season, mark my words on that one. In fact, Liberty is a couple skill players away from being a real threat in the Upperstate brackets. And how about those facilities? I can’t say enough good things about their stadium, concessions, bathrooms, press boxes. Maybe one day Panther fans…Maybe one day. Now on to the game.
There was not a lot of running room for the Panthers in the interior. The Panthers had to take their game to the edges. Junior Rapley (74-529-7) had an ESPN Top 10 type run early in the 2nd quarter. He zigged and zagged his way to the end zone for the Panthers first score of the night. Bryce Jackson also connected with Rapley on a 50 yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter to extend the Panthers lead to 20-3. Other than a 30 yard Jermaine Blackwell (45-347-5) touchdown run in the 4th quarter, that was about all of the offensive highlights on the night. The Panthers were held to a season low 131 yards rushing on 33 rushes. However, 9 completions on 15 attempts for 171 yards and touchdown pass off the arm of Bryce Jackson was just what the doctor ordered for a stifled A-Town offense.
The defensive player of the game with out a shadow of a doubt was Charles Holback. He flew to the ball carriers and played with a reckless physicality that was unmatched on the field. #5 showed up and showed out. He had 18 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in this game alone. On the season Holback has 32 tackles, 27 assists, 2 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. The Panthers defense as a whole held Liberty to 47 yards rushing on 40 attempts, and caused 3 turnovers. That Panther D is only giving up 16 points per game so far this season and a total of 282.75 yards per game.
The Panther defense will have to play their best game of the season this coming Friday night as the Southside Christian Sabers come to Hite Stadium for a top 5 matchup. You’ll never get a coach to admit it, but folks, this is the Region Championship game. Your #1 ranked Abbeville Panthers vs the #5 ranked, undefeated, Southside Christian Sabers. You don’t want to miss this game. We’ll have a full Southside preview in a couple days, right here on atownpanthers.com.
God Bless and Go Panthers!