Panthers win rain-shortened opener with Ridge Spring-Monetta.

Batesburg-Leesville High football fans evacuate the stadium as severe weather approached in the opening game of the 2019 season. The game was called in favor of the Panthers, who led 21-0 early in the third quarter. (Staff photo by Tony Baughman)

 

The Batesburg-Leesville Panthers opened their 100th season Friday night, Aug. 23 with a 21-0 victory over Ridge Spring-Monetta.

The game ended early in the third quarter when the field was cleared due to lightning. The coaches and referees conferred in the locker room as lightning continued to pop outside, and it was decided to call the game and the result to be made official. B-L will travel to Gilbert this Friday, looking to snap their three-game losing streak to the rival Indians.

B-L head coach Gary Adams stated that before the game the coaches discussed options. “We didn’t want to play on Monday and there was a strong chance of storms on Saturday,” he said. “We both have big games coming up this week with tough opponents and we were just trying to get it in and move on to the next one.”

That was why the game was played Friday with a 30-minute delay to startt.  With about a two-hour window in the weather, there was time for warm-up, and the game reached the third quarter before it returned. As the teams took shelter in the locker rooms, the coaches again looked at the weather.

“Looking at the weather we knew it would be several hours before we could get back out there,” Adams said.  Instead of coming back on Saturday to finish, it was decided to call the contest with B-L winning 21-0.

RSM opened the game with the ball and were near midfield when they attempted a fake punt on fourth down-and-9.  B-L’s Damazhay Long intercepted the pass and returned it 20 yards to the RSM 40.

On the first offensive play of the game, former quarterback and starting wide receiver Keshoun Williams took an end-around and then fired deep to a wide open Marvin Gantt for a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 6-0. The point-after was no good.

On their next possession, RSM reached the B-L 26 before penalties pushed the Trojans back, and they turned the ball over on downs at the B-L 23.  B-L then marched 77 yards in seven plays with Gantt carrying the ball four times for 29 yards, including the final 3 yards for a touchdown.

Tre Robinson also completed passes to Jenavas Williams and Keshoun Williams for 28 yards and 15 yards respectively on the drive.  Gantt added the two-point conversion, and B-L led 14-0 with 2:52 to play in the first quarter.

After a RSM fumble B-L drove to the Trojans’ 34, but on fourth down Gantt fumbled. The Trojans returned it to the B-L 36. Seven plays later, the Trojans turned the ball over on downs as Collier Sullivan’s 2-yard run was just short of the line with 7:52 to play in the half at the 3-yard line.

With their backs to the goal line, B-L ran twice but picked up nothing. Then Robinson dropped back, found Keshoun Williams streaking down the sideline, and hit him in stride. With the safety closing in, Williams was able to slip the tackle around the 35 and sprint to the end zone. Jackson Lorick’s extra point made it 21-0 with 6:20 to play.

With the 97-yard touchdown, Williams broke a 48-year-old school record.  The previous record was 92 yards from 1971 when Kim Gunter connected with Brent Shealy in a game against Allendale-Fairfax.

Late in the second quarter, RSM again threatened after the team’s traded punts. In the final minute, Sullivan broke a 13-yard run to the 7. On the next play, he was hit and fumbled, with Keshoun Williams recovering the ball and returning it to the 4-yard line with 32.9 seconds to play.

The teams returned to the field for the third quarter, and B-L mounted another drive. This time Gantt had three carries for 28 yards, but the drive stalled at the 10 as they turned the ball over on downs. RSM got three plays in before the referees called a lightning delay and sent the teams to the locker rooms.

Story by Jay Hendrix / Updated September 3, 2019