LINCOLNTON - Abbeville, the 3-time defending SC Class AA champion, rolled into town here last Friday night and never stopped running. The final 57-0 score did not reflect the effort made by Red Devil players and coaches.
The Panthers, with their strong ground game, rarely were forced to a third down situation. When they were, they converted on four of five attempts, and on the fourth down after the third down they didn't convert. They never punted. Abbeville led in offensive yards 369-165 and first downs 19-7.
The Devils, under new head coach Micheal Pollock, chose to receive the opening kickoff and got off to a promising start. Dawayne Wright gained 23 yards to the LC 41 before the tenacious Panther defense forced a punt.
On its first offensive play from scrimmage, the Abbeville quarterback broke through the line and scampered 66 yards to paydirt. With the PAT kick, the Panthers led 7-0 with 9:14 left in the quarter.
Two good runs by Monquavious Leverett and a holding flag moved the Devils to midfield before having to punt. The Panthers started from their 21 with long runs of 18 and 23 yards setup a 12-yard run by their outstanding QB. The folks from the Palmetto State were up 14-0 with 2:14 left in the first.
A 3-and-out at their 20, followed by a short punt, resulted in the Devils giving the Panthers the pigskin on a short field at the LC 31. Slowed by a penalty, Abbeville took four plays to score again. An eleven-yard run, followed by a two-point conversion, gave the Panthers a 22-0 lead with 10:26 to go in the first half.
The Devils lost four yards on their next possession. A good LC punt was offset by a good return. Seven plays later Abbeville scored on a five-yard run. Abbeville led 29-0 with 4:29 left in the half.
The Devils started from their 20 after the Abbeville kicker reached the endzone again. A pass lost two yards before Leverett broke free for 38 yards to the Abbeville 44. A shoestring tackle prevented the Devils from reaching the scoreboard. Tres Kelly earned another first down on an end-around to the A 30. Leverett had consecutive runs for a total of eight yards before freshman Tevin Gartrell rushed for two and a first down at the A 20. Two plays later a Panther scooped up a Devil fumble and outran everyone 83 yards to the endzone with 1:11 left. Abbeville led 36-0 at the break.
A long kickoff return and a good run on their first play from scrimmage setup a 14-yard touchdown by the Panthers. With the PAT kick, Abbeville led 43-0 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
But these young Devils and the coaches didn't give up. LCHS twice converted on fourth down on a nine-play drive to midfield. Unfortunately a fumble ended the drive. The Panthers scored four plays later for a 50-0 advantage.
Abbeville forced another punt. After a Panther penalty, Abbeville started at their four. With GHSA mercy rules in play, the visitors drove nine plays to score on a 10-yard run with 7:39 left in the game.
A fourth-down fumble by the Devils turned the all over to the Panthers where they could run out the final 2:45.
Leverett, moved from running back to QB during the off-season, led the Devil offense with 60 yards on 13 carries. Senior Wright carried four times for 39 yards. Freshman Gartrell ran eight times for 26 yards.
With the Red Devils' outstanding football heritage, rare results like last Friday leave their mark on the Lincoln County record book. This was the first time the Devils allowed more than 50 points at home. The previous high was 47 by Warren County in 1966 and by Washington in 1953. The 57-point margin made this the worst loss in local history by points, although arguably many others have been more painful.
The 57 points is the most ever allowed by the local team, dating back to 1922. The previous high was in 2001 when Washington-Wilkes beat the Devils 55-14. The only other time the Devils have allowed more than 50 was a 54-0 loss in Warrenton in 1953.
Lincoln County beat Abbeville 55-0 on September 12, 1986, on Buddy Bufford Field. The Panthers finally got their revenge, some 32 years later. The Devils still lead the series between the two outstanding prep football programs: 7-5-1.
This was the first time that the Devils were shutout since a 7-0 playoff loss to Savannah Christian in 2009. Abbeville also handed LCHS its previous regular season shutout, 21-0 at home in 2009.
The loss was the first in the season opener since a 24-21 loss in Abbeville in 2010, and the first season-opening shutout since a 22-0 defeat by W-W in 2002 at The Bud.
The Devils travel to McCormick this Friday to play the Chiefs. McCormick lost to Crescent in its opener. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30. Go Devils!