WINNSBORO — Fairfield Central High School used a monster first and third quarter to defeat the Panthers of Abbeville High School 42-6 on Friday night. Fairfield remains undefeated with a 2-0 record, while the loss dropped Abbeville to 1-2.
With the win, the Griffins avenged a 30-7 loss at Abbeville last season. After the game, Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis was proud his Griffins were able to redeem last year’s loss.
“Last year they (Abbeville) beat us up pretty good, but tonight was sweet because we were able to make some plays and win in big fashion,” he said.
In last year’s contest, the Griffins turned the ball over seven times. That was not the case this season. They did not commit a single turnover.
“That is probably the biggest stat of the night,” Davis noted.
Fairfield Central started the game on fire as they took their opening drive 10 plays and 64 yards for a touchdown. From eight yards out, Joseph Young finished the drive with a punishing run over the left side and stiff armed a defender on his way to the end zone.
After a three-and-out, Abbeville punted and gave the Griffins the ball at their own 33-yard line.
The drive started out with DeAndre Belton’s first pass of the night hitting Javaris Cook for a 26 yard gain. Three plays later, from 33 yards out, Belton fired a pass deep to Tyren White, who made a fingertip grab in the end zone.
“That was a big catch for Tyren,” Davis said after the game. “When DeAndre (Belton) threw the ball it started to drift on him, but Ty (White) made a great adjustment to come down with the football.”
It was White’s first touchdown of the season and gave the Griffins a 14-0 lead.
Abbeville appeared to be shell shocked on the ensuing possession. Panthers’ quarterback Joesph Battle coughed up the football when Byron Sampson came unblocked off the edge to force a fumble. Larry J. Bell scooped it up and rumbled into the end zone from 20 yards out to give Fairfield a commanding 21-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Abbeville would finally get on the board on their fourth drive of the game. After starting at their own 29-yard line, the Panther offense picked up three first downs powered by the running of Khalil Fuller. Fuller had runs of 32 yards and 20 yards to set up Abbeville with a first-and-goal at the Fairfield Central 3-yard line.
Fuller capped of the drive with a run off the left side, but the extra point was missed and Fairfield’s lead was cut to 21-6.
With three minutes left in the half, Abbeville took over possession at its own 34-yard line. Pounding out two first downs on the ground, the Panthers were threatening at the Fairfield 38 yard line. The threat would subside when Abbeville was hit with a chop-block penalty, pushing them back to their own 40-yard line.
With two seconds left in the half, Battle threw up a Hail Mary that was intercepted by Shadarius Hopkins and returned 30 yards as time expired.
Abbeville started the second half with the football, but was forced to punt after a three-and-out. Hopkins came through with another big return, this time 53 yards to set up the Griffin offense at the Abbeville 15-yard line.
Fairfield Central would break through six plays later on a third-and-goal play from the 5-yard line. Belton rolled out to his left and found Javaris Cook in the back of the endzone to extend the Griffins lead to 28-6.
Abbeville was forced to punt on their following possession, when Khalil Keitt’s 9-yard sack stalled the Panthers drive.
On Fairfield’s ensuing possession they would cross the goal line for a fifth time. On a fourth down play, Javahnne Neal would score his first touchdown of the season by running up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown.
Following the touchdown, the Griffins recovered what appeared to be an onside kick. After the game, Davis said Neal just missed the football on his follow through. The loose ball was recovered by Chandler Johnson. On the fifth play of the drive, Larry G. Bell put the exclamation point on a 42-6 win with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Traditionally Abbeville is a running machine, but was held to under four yards per carry by the Griffins defense. After the game Davis said he was pleased with his defense’s effort.
“That is probably their (Abbeville’s) lowest rushing output in a long time,” he stated. “We really did a good job of holding them to minimal gains all night long.”
Because of the two-hour bus ride between Abbeville and Fairfield Central, the two teams have decided not to schedule each other in the future Davis said after the game.
“I feel for those young men because that is a long drive for a group of kids that has been in school all day,” he said. “We (Fairfield and Abbeville) appreciate and respect each other but we’re done scheduling one another.”
Davis believes that his team’s biggest improvement from the first week to the second week was tackling and success running the football.
“Our offensive line was good all night,” he noted. “We were able to get our guys in formation and pound the football.”
Collectively the Griffins ran for 198 yards on 37 carries.
Defensively, Chandler Johnson recorded a team-high 13 tackles for the Griffins. Keitt chipped in nine tackles (four for a loss) and sack, while Compton Walker had seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
Walker also punted three times with an average of 42 yards per punt.
According to www.maxpreps.com Fairfield’s win was impressive enough to move them into the number one spot in class AA rankings. The Griffins will be back on the field Sept. 13 when they host the Cyclones of Chester (1-2). Last year, Chester won region III-3A and returns most of its starters.
With two tough 3A teams on the schedule in the next two weeks — Chester (Sept. 13) and Union County (Sept. 20) — Davis said those two games could decide how far the Griffins will go.
“These next two weeks we are going to have to play good football.” he said. “Chester is good, they’re big, they’re physical and they’re a good football team. And Union County played for the state championship last season, so these next two weeks will go a long way to deciding our season. If we can come out victorious and healthy we’re going to feel pretty good.”
Kickoff against Chester is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.