HEADLAND — Abbeville continued its winning streak in the Henry County rivaly with Headland Friday night, but had to go into extra time to accomplish it.
Nathan Hall scored on a 7-yard run on Abbeville’s second overtime play to secure a 14-8 Jacket win in a defensive showdown at Headland’s J.J. Yarbrough Stadium.
The Yellow Jacket defense, which bottled up Headland’s offense throughout the game except for one play, stopped the Rams on the opening overtime series. The Rams’ Tyler Danzey scrambled under pressure, worked around some defenders, but was tackled inside the 1 on fourth down.
The victory was Abbeville’s fourth straight in the series and the second straight to come down to the end. A year ago, the Jackets won a last-minute TD pass for a 32-27 win.
Abbeville improved to 8-2 as it now prepares for a Class 2A first-round state playoff game next week against J.U. Blacksher (8-2). Headland, which didn’t make the Class 4A state playoffs, had its season come to an end at 5-6.
Both teams’ defenses were the story of the night. Abbeville held Headland to just four first downs and 102 total yards in 12 possessions. The Ram defense allowed only eight first downs and 162 yards overall.
After Headland went to the halftime break up 8-2, Abbeville scored a touchdown in the third quarter, cashing in a Ram fumble. However, the Jackets couldn’t convert the try for 2, leaving it tied at 8-8.
AHS had a golden opportunity on its ensuing series after recovering another Ram turnover, but couldn’t cash in late in the third quarter and neither team seriously threatened to score in the final quarter.
Abbeville won the coin toss for overtime and deferred to the second possession. Headland’s Kareen Sailor gained 2 yards on a reverse on the first play, but the swarming Jacket defense stopped Danzey for no gain.
Danzey threw incomplete on third down and went back to throw on fourth down, but Jayven Anderson, who was in the backfield a lot on the night, got pressure, forcing the Ram quarterback to scramble to this left. He weaved through traffic, but was stopped less than two feet from the goal line.
On Abbeville’s possession, Hall ran for 3 yards before taking the second down snap wide to the left. He made two guys miss on diving tackle efforts and raced to the corner for the game-ending touchdown.
Defenses ruled the first half with Abbeville’s unit allowing only two first downs, while earning a score on a safety in six Headland series. The Ram defense allowed just four first downs in five Yellow Jacket series.
Late in the first quarter, Abbeville’s Hall, the punter, pinned the Rams inside the 10 with a 43-yard punt. Headland was also penalized for a personal foul on the play, pushing the ball back to the 5.
On the ensuing play, the Rams tried a sweep to the left with Danzey, but the Yellow Jacket defense strung it out and Rico Dozier tackled Danzey in the end zone for a safety with 58.1 seconds left in the quarter, putting AHS up 2-0.
The Yellow Jackets defense kept the Rams bottled up most of the half, but couldn’t cash in on good field position, especially on a promising drive. After a first down run by quarterback Dozier, a fourth-down middle screen pass on 4th-and-6 at the Headland 28 fell incomplete, turning the ball over to the Rams.
On the ensuing play, Headland’s Danzey, in at quarterback, rolled to his right then unleashed a long pass down the Rams sideline to receiver Dre Newman, who had his man beat in one-on-one coverage. Newman caught the pass at the 30 and raced to the end zone to complete a 72-yard TD pass.
Newman, who committed to Southern Illinois in the summer, was playing in his first game after missing eight weeks with a broken fibula suffered on Sept. 6 against Booker T. Washington. He was Headland’s starting quarterback before the injury. He split time during the game at receiver and quarterback.
After the TD pass, the Rams’ Sailor scored on two-point conversion off a reverse to the right, pushing Headland up 8-2 with 1:52 left before halftime.
The half ended with Abbeville earning just 81 total yards, including 58 rushing, and it also hurt itself with six penalties for 58 yards. The Rams, meanwhile, had only 77 total yards, but 72 came on the TD pass. They had three penalties for 15 yards and were hampered by a poor punting that helped Abbeville to good field position.
Abbeville capitalized on a Ram turnover in the third quarter as Arthur Thomas recovered a fumble at the Headland 10. Dozier scored on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-goal at the 2 on a tight formation with both running backs close behind to help push him across.
On a two-point try, Dozier tried to run off the left side, but the Ram defense stopped him short of the goal line, leaving the game tied at 8 with eight minutes left in the quarter.