Newberry coach Phil Strickland has been around the game a long time, and he was firm in his conviction. His team faced fourth and a long 5 yards on Chapman’s 37, late in the fourth quarter of a tie game, and he knew he wanted to punt and pin the Panthers deep.
The punt rolled into the end zone, and a few plays later, Chapman quarterback Colton Bailey bombed a deep shot to wide receiver Richard Tucker, who took it the rest of the 85 yards for the go-ahead score with 85 seconds remaining in a 34-27 loss for Newberry in the Class 3A Upper State title game.
“I wasn’t going to go for it there, give them the ball right there,” Strickland said. “We wanted to at least get them down there, close. I thought we’d get them inside the 10, but it didn’t work out that way.”
The Bulldogs (10-4) had rallied from a 27-7 hole in the third quarter, grinding away behind the running of Amir Abrams. But the Panthers (11-3) had the last shot, and got payback for a one-point Newberry win in the regular season that ended with a dramatic play in the final seconds.
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When Newberry couldn’t pin the Panthers deep and Bailey connected on his second-and-15 pass.
Amir Abrams, RB, Newberry: The junior carried his team, running for 257 yards on 40 carries and scoring four touchdowns.
Richard Tucker, WR, Chapman: The junior had a knack for big plays, with touchdowns of 85 and 50 yards as part of three catches for 140 yards.
90: Penalty yards for Newberry, including 50 in the first half that helped derail several drives.
Three: Chapman completions that went for touchdowns of 50 yards or longer.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s tough. We were down so much at halftime, and I’m real proud of our kids coming back and making it a ballgame. We just gave up the big play there. Hats off to those guys. .. I’m proud of my guys too. They could have rolled over and quit, and they didn’t” – Newberry coach Phil Strickland
“I was honestly. The way they were playing defensively, we hadn’t scored at all. So the way they’re playing, his defense, hopefully pin us deep, quick turnover and they’re in field goal range.” – Mark Hodge, Chapman coach, on being surprised Newberry punted inside his 40
HOW THEY SCORED
N – Abrams 17 run (Day kick), 1:14
C – Tucker 50 pass from Bailey (Montolva kick), 11:52
C – Twitty 4 run (Montolva kick), 8:22
C – Rollins 66 pass from Bailey (Montolva kick), 1:48
C – Shaundre Miller 43 interception return (kick failed), 10:32
N – Abrams 14 run (Day kick), 6:06
N – Abrams 22 run (Day kick), 1:03
N – Abrams 19 run (Kick failed), 8:54
C – Tucker 85 pass from Bailey (Montolva kick), 1:25
Rushing: C: Twitty 21-134, Bailey 4-23, TEAM 1-(-3). N: Abrams 40-257, Scurry 5-39, Gillam 3-26, Moore 1-4, Robinson 1-2, Goodman 2-(-19). Totals: 52-309.
Passing: C: Bailey 8-20-2-253. N: Goodman 6-19-2-91.
Receiving: C: Tucker 3-140, Adams 2-25, Oglesby 2-22, Rollins 1-66. N: Wadsworth 3-40, Scurry 2-27, Abrams 1-24.