Abbeville Wins 48-20

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BIG GAME -  Sophomore Jabari Baker #3 had the best game of his young career, catching 10 passes for 117 yards in the loss to Abbeville Friday. Coach Stewart Young looks on. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)

Panthers Pound Tigers, 48-20

  Four Saluda turnovers led to 28 Abbeville points, and that proved to be the difference in the Panthers’s 48-20 win over the Tigers Fri., Oct. 25, at Hite Field.
  Billed as one of the top games in the state, pitting two of 2-A’s best teams, fans got their money’s worth.
  It was predicted to be Saluda’s passing against Abbeville running, and as it turned out Saluda passed for 408 yards, and Abbeville ran for 447. The two teams combined for 992 yards in offense.
  The Panthers got things going in the first quarter, taking the opening kick-off and driving 71-yards for the score in seven plays. The critical play in the drive came with Abbeville facing a third and 12 at their own 26-yard-line. The team that rarely passes completed a 24-yard pass to keep the drive going.
  Saluda forced a punt on the Panther’s second possession of the night, and outstanding punter Dylan Beauford penned the Tigers are the 12. Montrevious Baker gained three yards on first down, then quarterback Noah Bell found Jervon Whitt over the middle, and the speedy senior outran the coverage for an 85-yard touchdown. Adrian Vasquez tied the game at 7-7 with 1:37 to go in the first quarter.
  The first drive of the second quarter proved to be the Tigers’ undoing. Moving from their own 29 to the Abbeville 22, looking to take the lead, the Tigers called a running play, and Baker fumbled. The Panther recovered at their own 17-yard-line.
  The Panthers moved to the 50 and faced third and eight. Again, following the running team’s tradition against Saluda, Abbeville went to the air and J.D. Moore connected with Tyrell Hadden for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Beauford kicked the PAT and Abbeville led 14-7 with 6:19 to go in the half.
  In all probability, Saluda’s chance for a victory ended nine seconds later. Beauford’s kick-off sailed into the end zone. On first down at the 20. Bell threw to Dallan Wright, and Abbeville’s Jhalyn Shuler stripped the ball out of Wright’s hands and scampered 20-yards for the touchdown. Beauford made it 21-7 with 6:10 still remaining in the half.
  The Tigers couldn’t move after the kick-off, and after Bell’s punt, Abbeville began a 54-yard scoring drive that ended with Moore’s 23-yard scoring run. Beauford’s kick gave Abbeville a 28-7 lead with just 1:33 to go in the half.
  Like last week when time was running out against Fox Creek, the Tigers showed they didn’t need much time to score. Starting at the 20 after Beauford’s end zone kick-off, the Tigers needed just over a minute to move 80-yards for the score. The big play in the drive was a 42-yard pass from Bell to Wright. Later, the two connected fora four-yard touchdown  pass. Vasquez’ kick cut Abbeville’s halftime lead to 28-14.
   It appeared the Tigers were set up for a comeback when freshman Tyleke Mathis returned the opening kick-off of the second half 43 yards. A 15-yard penalty against the Panthers gave Saluda a first down at the Abbeville 40-yard-line, but on first down Bell’s pass was intercepted and returned to the Abbeville 25.
  From there, the Panther took seven plays to score. Moore scored on a two-yard run, and Beauford’s kick made the score 35-14 with 7:52 to in the third quarter.
  After the kick-off, the Tigers moved to the Abbeville 33 where Bell threw his second pick of the night. The Panthers took over at their own ten.
  On their third play of the drive, Hadden broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run. Beauford made with 42-14 with 5:11 to go in the quarter.
 Saluda had to punt on their next possession after earning a couple of first downs.
  Abbeville got the ball at the 21, and on third down at the 25, Martico Jackson broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. A bad snap foiled the PAT and Abbeville’s scoring was complete at 48.
  The Tigers came back with another 80-yard drive. The touchdown came on a 13-yard run by  Bell. Vasquez missed the kick and Saluda cut the lead to 48-20 with 7:31 to go in the game.
  Saluda had one more shot, driving from the Tiger 17 to the Abbeville five where they had first and goal as time was expiring. The threat ended with four straight Bell incompletions.
  Despite the loss, the Tigers continued their record setting performances.
  Bell broke his most passing yards in a game record with the 408-yard performance. He also set records for most attempts in a game (57), most completions (37), and most 300+ yard games in a row (four).
  Wright upped his most receiving touchdowns in a season record to 14, and he and Whitt’s record for most touchdowns by two receivers climbed to 25.
  Jabari Baker and Whitt tied for the record for two receivers with 100-yards each in a game, and the team tied the record for most players catching a pass in a game (eight) tied with the 2006 team.
  The Tigers have a very important game on Senior Night Friday when arch-rival Batesburg-Leesville comes to town. The Panthers (5-4) are tied with the Tigers (7-2) for second place. The winner of the game earns a host spot in the first round of the play-offs.
  Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.