There was a few thousand people that can now say they saw history made before their very eyes. The Abbeville Panthers dismantled the Lincoln Co Red Devils 57-0 in Friday nights much anticipated contest. The score itself holds historical significance. Lincoln Co. had never allowed 57 points to an opponent on its home field. The Panthers also broke a record that stood for 65 years. In 1953 Lincoln Co lost to Warrenton High by a score of 54-0. That 54 point margin of defeat was the largest in school history. Until the Panthers came to town. The 57 point margin of victory for Abbeville is the new record at Larry Campbell Stadium, marking the worst loss in Lincoln Co High School history.
Another piece of Panther history that unfolded before our eyes is the record that Head Coach Jamie Nickles set. In his 15th season at the helm of the Panthers, Coach Nickles is now the winningest coach in the 101 year history of Abbeville Panther football. Nickles’ career record is now 148-39-1. He passed the late Dennis Botts, whose record he tied with the 2017 State Championship win at Benedict College vs Bamberg last December. Nickles (148), Botts (147), Hite (145) and Hendrix (103) are the only coaches with 100+ wins in school history.
Now to the game itself. When the point spread was released a couple of weeks ago, many scoffed at the idea that Abbeville was a 20 point favorite, on the road, at Lincoln Co, in the opening game of the season. The Panthers surpassed the 20 point mark early in the 2nd quarter. Panther quarterback JD Moore took the first Panther offensive play from scrimmage and zipped 66 yards, virtually untouched, for a touchdown. Moore’s night ended in the 3rd quarter, with a comfortable lead, after he rushed for 137 yards on 10 carries and finding the endzone three times. Courtney Jackson scored twice, Dominick Washington added a touchdown run and 95 yards on the ground as well. The Panther offensive line was dominate as well. Jake Hill, Conner Nickles, Tre Jones and company manhandled the severely out manned LC defensive line. Panther ball carriers totaled 348 yards on 41 carries. They averaged 8.5 yards per rush and completely controlled the game from the opening kickoff. Speaking of kickoffs. How nice is it now to see the football land five to seven yards deep in the endzone on nearly every kickoff. Dylan Beauford has improved his leg strength and accuracy in the offseason and he is not only an asset to this team. He’s a weapon on special teams.
When you look at the rushing numbers, you might think that the 348 yards isn’t the biggest number you’ve seen recently. That is a true statement, as the Panthers have rushed for over 500 yards in multiple games over the last few seasons. The number isn’t indicative to how dominate the offense was, that number is indicative however to how dominate the defense was. The Panther defense punished the Red Devil offense for the entire game. They forced punt after punt and set up the Panther offense with a short field. A shorter field to work with equals fewer total rushing yards, but a big number on the scoreboard.
Let me say this, there was not a single player that was wearing a Lincoln Co jersey Friday night that could block Ar’Darius Burton. He absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage and was a nightmare for the Red Devil offense. He disrupted every single play, in one way or the other, for every play that he was on the field. The combination of Nate Temple, Carson Smith, Jihad Washington and Burton may be the most dominate starting defensive line that the Panthers have had in a very long time. Quadarius Guillebeaux scored twice Friday night. The long rangy safety scooped up a LC fumble and glided 79 yards to pay dirt to extend the Panther lead to 36-0 with 1:11 left before halftime. That was the quintessential nail in the coffin for the Red Devils. They never crossed the 50 yard line again for the remainder of the game. Ooohhhss and aaahhhhsss filled the humid Georgia air as Tyreke Campbell did his best (insert hardest hitter in the NFL name here) impersonation. Campbell laid out a LC blocker on a kickoff, and then delivered a thunderous hit near the A-Town sideline that drew a penalty, even though the hit looked clean. David Cobb and Tyrell Hadden were flying all over the defensive backfield as did Jhalyn Shuler. I know it’s early in the season and there’s a lot of football left to play, but this defense has the potential to be a very special unit moving forward. Defensive Coordinator Tad Dubose has got to be pleased with the talent that he gets to help mold this season.
The Panthers will host Newberry this coming Friday for the home opener at Hite Stadium. Kickoff is 730. Abbeville has instituted a clear bag policy this season. Purses, bookbags, and any bag that you bring into Hite Stadium must be clear. They are also subject to be searched. There is zero exception to this new policy, so please make arrangements before attending the game to avoid any delays at the entrances.
God Bless and Go Panthers.