NEWBERRY — For a seventh straight year, Newberry High School progresses to the second round of the playoffs, as they had their closest playoff victory since the 2007 season with a 38-34 victory over Pendleton Friday evening at Mike Ware Field.
Amir Abrams scored five touchdowns in the first half, making the senior one shy of becoming only the fourth running back in state history to score at least 100 touchdowns in his high school career.
Pendleton won the coin toss, but elected to defer the kick-off until the second half.
Newberry’s only pass completion of the night came on the night’s second play as the Bulldogs needed six plays to cover 66 yards with Abrams scoring on a five-yard run for the 7-0 score after Ulises Benitez’s PAT kick just over two minutes into the game.
Pendleton fumbled over to Willie Young on their first offensive play of the evening.
Needing to cover only eight yards, Abrams needed two plays to do so as his three-yard run put his team ahead 14-0 with still 8:59 left in the first quarter.
Pendleton was held to a three-and-out as Newberry started off this possession just inside mid-field.
Abrams needed three plays to cover the distance as he already had scored his third touchdown of the evening for the 21-0 score with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
Pendleton would put their first points up on the scoreboard with a minute to go in the quarter as they scored on a one-yard run for the 21-7 score.
Abrams scored touchdown number four on the evening on the second play of the second quarter with a 10-yard run and the 28-7 score.
Newberry’s Jaleel Gilliam returned the Pendleton punt 48 yards for a Panthers net loss of 11 yards.
Abrams scored two plays later with a two-yard run and the 35-7 score with 9:59 left in the first half.
Unbeknownst to Newberry, they would not touch the ball offensively for nearly eight minutes on the scoreboard.
Pendleton needed all but 21 seconds of the first of the first half to go 81 yards in 16 plays, including recovering a Newberry fumble on a punt.
On the play prior to the Pendleton scoring, there was actually a fumble at the goal line, which seemed to be recovered by Newberry. After a lengthy conversation by the officials, possession was awarded back to Pendleton.
Newberry accumulated 203 yards of offense in the first half, while Pendleton had 123.
Pendleton only needed three plays and less than two minutes to start the second half for another touchdown to be scored as the Bulldogs of Anderson county scored on a 54-yard pass as suddenly it was a 35-21 score, after a 14-point Pendleton run.
Casey Shealy recovered the onside kick for Newberry at mid-field.
Three Newberry rushing places took the ball down to the 18, but Newberry would be penalized 25 yards in the next two plays, which eventually led to a fourth-and-41 back to mid-field.
Aside from the holding penalty, Newberry was also penalized 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike infraction after a Pendleton player spat on a Newberry player, but the home team would be caught on the retaliation.
Pendleton went on a nine minute drive after the punt, as they ended the 11-play drive with a run by the quarterback for the touchdown and the 35-28 score with 97 seconds left in the third quarter.
Abrams was on the way to becoming only the fourth running back in the state of South Carolina history to score at least 100 touchdowns in their high school career, but a two-yard sack on a third down forced Benitez to split the uprights with a 25-yard field goal with 6:44 left in the game and the 38-28 score.
A 10-yard holding penalty on Pendleton was the only drawback on their final possession of the night as they drove 85 yards on two plays, to score the final points of the night with a 56-yard touchdown pass with 6:15 left in the game. The PAT kick was wide for the 38-34 score.
Newberry ended the game with 11 straight rushing plays.
Newberry had the ball 22:21 during the game, including having possession only 6:21 during the entire first half…despite scoring five touchdowns in the process.
Pendleton accumulated 350 yards of offense and 12 first downs on 48 plays.
Gilliam was the only Bulldog to make a pass reception, as he had a five-yard catch.
Abrams rushed the ball 33 times for 273 yards. He has now had his second straight 2000-yard season, and has rushed for over 6000 yards in his career.
Also, Rae Wilmore had three carries for 42 yards, while Marcus Moore had five carries for 36 yards.
Newberry ended the night with 22 first downs.
The victory over Pendleton was Newberry’s 500th win since they first fielded a team in 1921.
Newberry returns to Fairfield Central on Friday as the Bulldogs and/or the Griffins have advanced to the upper-state championship game the last five consecutive years.
This will mark the 11th time in team history that Newberry has met one opponent twice in the same season.