ABBEVILLE - With four scoring drives each lasting less than 60 seconds, Abbeville raced past Batesburg Leesville 37-26 in Friday's third-round Class 2A playoff game at Hite Stadium.
Batesburg-Leesville's clock-eating, ball control approach looked promising early on as the guest Panthers needed seven minutes to march 81 yards and score on their opening drive.
But the Abbeville Panthers responded with a 59-second scoring drive. Quarterback Jermaine Thackson's 59-yard sprint to the end zone expedited Abbeville's game-tying drive.
"That is the way we teach football, and that's the way we play - physical," Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles said.
Batesburg-Leesville coach Courtney McInnis felt his team's game plan was solid, and believed it would work even as they went from a seven-point lead to a four-point deficit in the final minutes of the first half.
Abbeville trailed 14-7 after Elliott Jeffcoat's six-yard touchdown run with 8:51 left in the half. On its longest drive of the night, Abbeville used six minutes to drive 47 yards and set up D.K. Saylors' 30-yard field goal. After a three-and-out from Batesburg-Leesville, Abbeville took the lead on a four-play, 40-second drive that covered 55 yards, with Thackson connecting with Michael Jackson for 41 yards and Gavagio Enwright capping the drive with a two-yard run.
"I'd have been comfortable, really, going into the half when we were behind 14-7," Nickles said, confident in his team's ability to bounce back quickly. "Then when we got the field goal and went ahead, I knew we would be all right."
The host Panthers benefited from key mistakes by Batesburg-Leesville and made few of their own.
Batesburg's first drive of the half faced fourth-and-13 from its 22 and a punting situation. Abbeville's Andrew Osborne tipped the kick, and Chris Butler pulled it down near the 40 and returned it to the 12. Five seconds later, Abbeville was up 24-14.
Then on third-and-12 from its 48, Batesburg-Leesville gave up one of two interceptions, and Jackson returned it to the 13, setting up another quick score for Abbeville.
"Them getting those two quick touchdowns really took us out of our game plan," McInnis said. "We couldn't ball-control as much then, and when you make mistakes it makes it more difficult."
Quarterback K.J. Johnson finished 6-of-10 for 103 yards before leaving the game with an injury in the fourth quarter. Jamal Bryant finished with two completed passes in engineering Batesburg-Leesville's final scoring drive.
"I think we exceeded our expectations this season," McInnis said. "Losing four right there in the middle and not even knowing if we were going to make it to the playoffs ... these kids did a good job this season."
Abbeville will travel to Pageland Central for the semifinals on Nov. 28.
Batesburg Leesville 7 7 0 12-26
Abbeville 7 10 14 6-37
B - Dametrius Robinson 1 run (Austin White kick), 2:48
A - Jermaine Thackson 59 run (Saylors kick), 1:49
B - Elliott Jeffcoat 6 run (White kick), 8:51
A - Saylors 30 field goal, 2:18
A - Gavagio Enwright 2 run (Saylors kick), :22.8
A - Sammy Head 2 run (Saylors kick), 9:25
A - Head 7 run (Saylors kick), 7:29
B - Chris Lewis 47 pass from KJ Johnson (kick blocked), 11:12
A - Thackson 5 run (kick failed), 7:03
B - Jamal Bryant 3 run (no kick), 0:00
First downs 14 16
Rushes-yards 38-160 43-296
Passes-yds 8-139 1-41
Comp-Att-Int 8-16-2 1-4-1
Punts-avg. 4-28 3-26
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-45 5-51
RUSHING - B, Ricky Adams 10-60, Elliott Jeffcoat 17-53. A, Jermaine Thackson 15-124, Sammy Head 13-98.
PASSING -B, KJ Johnson 6-10-2, 103, Jamal Bryant 2-6-0, 36. A, Thackson 1-4-1, 41.
RECEIVING -B, Chris Lewis 2-75, Isiah Langford 1-32. A, Michael Jackson 1-41.