What a time to exact a measure of revenge.
Batesburg-Leesville kept its playoff tour rolling, shutting down Barnwell’s previously unstoppable offense in a 20-17 win in the Class 2A Lower State championship game.
It was the Panthers’ fourth win in a row since a 20-6 loss at Barnwell a month ago that knocked Batesburg-Leesville into the fourth and final playoff spot from Region 5-2A.
Now, after the Lower State predictably ended up being an an all-region final, the Panthers are the last team left standing.
“Kids played hard; played hard right to there to the wire. Batesburg showed up and played defense,” said Barnwell coach Dwayne Garrick. “After we got those first couple drives, it was tough for us to get anything going on the ground. That’s a good football team; been a good football team all year. Some of the games they’ve lost have been some close ones to some really good opponents. I’m proud of our kids. Our kids showed up, they played, played until the end.”
The turning point – or points, rather – came near the midway point of the third quarter. Clinging to a 14-12 lead, Barnwell recovered a muffed punt at the Batesburg-Leesville 12-yard line and was on the doorstep of a momentum-swinging touchdown.
That never happened.
The Panthers forced the Warhorses to settle for a Nathaniel Toole field goal, and then they got a momentum swing of their own when Jalik Oakman took the ensuing kickoff down to the Barnwell 2. Tyreek Tolen scored two plays later, and Bishop Cannon hit Anthony Williams for a 2-point conversion to make it a 20-17 game.
Barnwell never got that momentum back, and it was thanks to a stifling Batesburg-Leesville defense that limited the Warhorses to 140 rushing yards on 47 carries.
“We just had to settle down and play football,” said Batesburg-Leesville coach Perry Woolbright, whose team will face Abbeville for the state championship. “We had a good game plan coming in. The kids played hard. We just came out and made some mistakes we couldn’t make early on. But the good thing is our kids; our kids have been through a lot this season, the ups and downs and everything like that, and they learned to battle through storms and adversity – that was our season right there.”
Tolen rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which was a 34-yarder on the second play of the second quarter that got the Panthers on the scoreboard. Cannon, who added 81 yards of his own, scored from the 11 after a 30-yard Tolen sprint near the end of the half to make it a 14-12 game.
B — Keyshawn Jenkins 1 run (Nathaniel Toole kick) 9:44
B — Brandon Harvey 2 run (Toole kick) 3:50
BL — Tyreek Tolen 34 run (kick blocked) 11:11
BL — Bishop Cannon 11 run (conversion failed) 1:45
B — Toole 30 field goal 7:44
BL — Tolen 1 run (Cannon pass to Anthony Williams) 7:20
Rushing: BL — Tyreek Tolen 20-128-2, Bishop Cannon 18-81-1. B — Mykal Lee 12-52, Anton Buxton 9-33, Keyshawn Jenkins 14-32-1, Brandon Harvey 5-23-1, Ryan Harper 1-1, Pete Elmore 6-(-1).
Passing: BL — Bishop Cannon 6-9-33-0-1. B — Pete Elmore 4-11-66.
Receiving: BL — Anthony Williams 4-22, Kendall Powell 2-11. B — Keyshawn Jenkins 2-34, Kamron Myrick 1-27, D.J. Peeples 1-5.