Panthers overcome adversity
Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 1:41 a.m.
NEWBERRY - Not much went right for the Newberry High School football team in the first half of its season-opener against Santa Fe on Friday night.
The Panthers totaled 94 yards offense, they piled up 95 penalty yards on 10 infractions, had a touchdown called back, their quarterback Guy Brown sprained his ankle and coach Tommy Keeler said three of his starters were vomiting before the game.
On top of that Newberry faced a seven-point deficit at halftime.
But none of that seemed to matter to the home team in the second half. Newberry rushed for 308 yards in the final 24 minutes and scored 27 unanswered points to dump the Raiders 27-7 in front an overflow crowd at Panther Stadium.
Newberry's first-team all-state running back Antwan Ivey ran for 132 of his 186 yards (on 23 carries) in the second half and scored three touchdowns despite two fumbles to lead the Panthers (1-0).
Xavier Woods added 121 rushing yards on 10 carries for Newberry, which won its second straight meeting against the rival Raiders (0-1). The last time the Panthers accomplished that feat was in 1997 and 1998.
"Look at everything that happened in the first half, it couldn't have gone more wrong, it was tough," said Keeler, whose club finished with 385 rushing yards on 45 attempts. "But still, it is good to know that you can be down seven points, not playing well and you can come back like that in the second half."
Santa Fe opened the game's scoring as K.J. Carter plowed into the end zone from four yards out to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 1:49 to go until halftime. But that seemed to be the end of the good news for the Raiders, as Carter and fellow running back Deonte Merricks were both forced to leave the game with leg injuries according to Raiders coach Bart Brooks.
The Panthers defense had two late interceptions and limited the Raiders to 118 rushing yards on 35 attempts and just 46 passing yards for the game. That helped set up the Panthers offense, which tied the game on Ivey's six-yard scoring run at the 7:45 mark of the third period.
Newberry poured it on in the final quarter as Ivey's 22-yard scamper gave his club the lead at 14-7 with 9:51 left to play. He then broke off a 31-yard run to pay dirt at the 4:52 mark for the 21-7 edge. Benny Hadley iced the game and provided the final margin with a 25-yard scoring run with 2:37 to go.
"I felt like we gave them (Santa Fe) everything they got in the first half and the second half we came out and played Newberry football," said Keeler. "We decided when we went into the locker room we were going to get real nasty and come back out here and play tough hard nosed football and run it right at them, which obviously we did."
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