Warhorses prevail over Panthers
It’s become apparent over the past couple of years that anytime Barnwell High and Batesburg-Leesville High play each other in football, expect a battle.
The teams have played three times during the stretch with Barnwell High prevailing twice in games that were decided by a touchdown or less.
That was pretty much the case again Friday night at W.W. Carter Field with the region rivals meeting in the third round of the class AA playoffs.
In ways the game resembled a big-budget blockbuster movie. The beginning and ending stages were filled with excitement, even if the middle was lacking a little substance.
However, when the closing credits rolled it was the Warhorses receiving the standing ovation after a hard-fought 21-14 victory.
The Warhorses’ goal-line defense was the key to victory. A Warhorses unit led by Dylan Waker, Ernest Smith, Tyreek Faust and Jackson Carter corralled Panthers quarterback Bishop Cannon at the one-yard line on fourth and goal with 5:41 left to play.
The Warhorses then used their ground game to produce three first downs and 43 yards to milk the remaining clock and preserve the win.
Mykal Lee, who finished with 122 yards rushing, picked up some tough yardage during the final possession. Brandon Harvey also came up big with a 12-yard run on second down and seven to keep the chains moving.
With the win, Barnwell High advances to the Lower State Finals for the second year in a row. The Warhorses will play on the road Friday night in a rematch against Bamberg-Ehrhardt High.
“Anytime these two teams play expect a good ball game,” Barnwell High coach Dwayne Garrick said following the win over Batesburg-Leesville. “I thought we made enough plays tonight to get it done. Defensively, we have been playing well all season and we came up big again with the late goal line stand.”
In the teams’ first meeting in Batesburg-Leesville, the Warhorses fell behind by three touchdowns early.
This time, the Warhorses got out of the stable early behind the running of Lee. Lee scored twice in the first quarter on runs of seven and four yards to put the Warhorses ahead 13-7.
The score remained that way until midway through the third quarter.
Dallyon Creech, who returned a kickoff 57-yards, scored four plays later on a five-yard run. Pete Elmore completed the two-point conversion to Ryan Harper to extend the lead to 21-7 with 6:12 left in the quarter.
The Panthers, however, clawed back. Behind the plays of Cannon, the Panthers traveled 40 yards for a touchdown. Cannon, who converted a fourth down and five with a seven-yard completion, capped the seven play march with a nine-yard run.
“That’s a terrific athlete they have at quarterback. I thought our players did a good job of containing him in space,” Garrick said.
For the game, Harvey finished with 73 yards on 13 carries. Pete Elmore had an efficient night passing going five for six for 112 yards.
Defensively for the Warhorses, Dylan Walker and Ernest Smith each had eight tackles apiece. Players with six tackles included Carter, Michael Guty and Tyreek Faust.