ABBEVILLE – When Abbeville Christian Academy's Eli Seay snagged a fumbled ball out of the air and rambled 54 yards for the first touchdown of the game, it was symbolic of the wild night ahead in what concluded with a 58-48 win over Northside Methodist Academy late Thursday.
“I just caught the ball and took off,” Seay said.
The game took off from there.
“The toss was slightly behind him and it popped up right into their defensive end’s hands,” Northside Methodist coach Jason Hurst said of what was a designed reverse. “It was almost like it took us a while to recover from that.”
The Generals led 26-0 with still 9:04 to play in the first half following a 70-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Ledford to Jackson Blalock before the Knights stormed back to pull within 32-24 following the first possession of the second half.
Northside Methodist stayed within a touchdown and 2-point conversion at 46-38 with still 3:35 to play in the third quarter after a 7-yard touchdown run by Chase Swain. But it only took ACA two plays to make it a 52-38 game when Ledford connected with Davondre Cobb over the middle in what turned into a 55-yard touchdown play.
“We knew coming in they had two really dynamic athletes – No. 3 (Blalock) and No. 9 (Cobb),” Hurst said. “We tried everything we could do to bottle those guys up. We played them man and they still busted through some.”
The combined 106 points was close to a record for the Generals and was one for the Knights. ACA’s record for combined points is 108 during a 70-38 loss to Crenshaw Christian in 2017. NMA’s previous record for combined points in a game was 95 during a 49-46 loss to Chambers Academy in 2016.
“I felt like that game lasted 10 hours,” Hurst said.
The Generals were fighting a numbers battle of a different kind. NMA had 56 players listed on its roster, while ACA had 28.
“Their goal was to out-tempo us – just try to tire us out,” Abbeville Christian coach Ashley Carlisle said. “That’s why we gave up the last touchdown – my safety couldn’t move. His leg was cramped up.
“I’m so proud of the fight in my guys. We’ve got something special going on.”
Both teams had players that put up some outstanding numbers offensively.
NMA quarterback Cason Eubanks, a sophomore, unofficially threw for 197 yards and ran for 191. Swain ran for 186 yards on 25 carries.
“I think you saw just how dynamic our quarterback can be,” Hurst said. “We’ve got to find a way to stop some people. We can stay down about it and hang our heads, or we can go back to work.”
For ACA, Ledford unofficially passed for 267 yards in completing 7-of-10 passes. The Generals used four running backs to pound the football inside – with Chapman Watt leading the way with 60 yards and Blalock, who lined up at times for direct snaps, compiling 56 yards on the ground. Brandon Early added 45 yards and Cobb 25.
“There was no defense played on either side,” Carlisle offered. “But I’ll tell you what – Ledford did a great job of spinning it.”
It was ACA turning it over on the second play of the game with a fumble as the Knights’ Aaron Gilbert pounced on the loose ball at the Generals’ 29.
Three plays later, it looked like NMA was going to get the first points as Eubanks connected with Kennard Miller, who raced 75 yards into the end zone. A holding call, however, brought the play back and ACA would get the first points on the ensuing play when Seay returned the fumbled pitch.
ACA then recovered another fumble on the kickoff and mounted a 10-play drive that resulted in Cobb scoring on a 7-yard run over the right side. The try for 2 failed and the scored stood at 12-0.
The Generals made it 19-0 with 2:46 left in the opening quarter when Early scored on a 20-yard run up the middle as the offensive line opened up a huge hole. Blalock kicked through the PAT for a 19-0 lead.
On the Generals next possession, Ledford threw a quick pass over to Blalock on the first play of the series and Cobb made a block to free Blalock for the 70-yard touchdown run down the sidelines in making it 26-0 after the PAT.
But the Knights then started battling back.
A 19-yard pass from Eubanks to Cason Metcalf took the ball down to the ACA 10. Three plays later, Swain ran in from 6 yards out. On the extra point attempt, Eubanks bobbled the snap as the holder, but sprinted to his right and dove into the end zone to make it 26-8 with 5:18 to play in the half.
ACA came right back with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Ledford to Blalock over the middle. The PAT was missed, leaving the score at 32-8.
NMA scored with 55 seconds left in the half when Eubanks connected with Evan Johnson on a 36-yard scoring toss. Eubanks threw to Metcalf for the 2-point conversion to make it 32-16 at halftime.
The Knights cut it to 32-24 on a 6-yard touchdown run by Swain and 2-point conversion run by Eubanks on the first possession of the second half.
ACA then had a 10-play, 59-yard drive to score when Blalock took the direct snap and tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Christian Davis. The Generals converted a try for 2 to make it 40-24 with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
NMA responded with a 43-yard touchdown run up the middle by Eubanks to make it 40-30 with 4:27 left in the third. The try for 2 failed.
On the next play from scrimmage following the kickoff, Ledford found Cobb open on the right side and connected for a 54-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was blocked, keeping it at 46-30.
The Knights scored on the next possession when Swain rushed in from 7 yards out and Eubanks ran in the 2-point try to make it 46-38 with 3:35 left in the third.
But on the second play following the kickoff, Ledford hit Cobb for a 56-yard touchdown reception to make it 52-38. The try for 2 failed.
ACA recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and then scored on the following possession as Watt went in from 2 yards out to complete a 6-play, 36-yard drive in making it 58-38 with 11:54 to play in the game.
NMA made a tackle in the end zone for a safety with 1:45 left and then scored a touchdown on the next possession when Eubanks connected with Kennard Miller on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left. Eubanks ran in the 2-point try for the final 58-48 tally.
Abbeville Christian is now 1-1, while Northside Methodist is 0-2.
“Even as disappointed as I am with this loss, our guys showed more fight, more energy than they did in game one,” Hurst said.