Defense key as No. 3 CA stops Abbeville 14-6
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LaFAYETTE — The No. 3-ranked Chambers Academy Rebels (12-0) used a sensational team defense effort and big plays to earn a hard-fought 14-6 AISA 1A state semifinal win over the Abbeville Generals here Friday evening before a big crowd at Torbert Field. With the win, coach Jason Allen’s Rebels punched its ticket to its third straight title game and will play the Patrician Saints in the 1A state championship game Friday at 12 noon CT at Troy University. As they have done throughout the season, CA used terrific team defensive play and stopped Abbeville inside the CA 40 seven of eight times, including five times in the red zone and that’s championship defensive football at its best. It was a much different game Friday than when the two schools battled three weeks ago when the Rebels pounded the Generals on their home field by a 48-6 score. Abbeville came to play, so did CA and its was a defensive war for the whole game but the Rebels proved once again, they always had someone step up and make plays and they made a plethora of those as well. “What a great atmosphere for a semi-final ball game,” Allen said. “Both teams played their hearts out and fortunately, we came out on top. We had our backs against the wall time and time again and held strong. I was really proud of how we handled adversity. For the first time all year, we struggled a offensively, but we played lights out on defense against a very talented and explosive offense. It is a great feeling to be playing for a third straight state championship. We expected to be here all along but now we’ve got to go finish the deal. It has been a remarkable season so far and I’m really proud of what we have accomplished but we’re not finished yet. We’ve got some unfinished business. To do that, we’ve got to go through a seasoned Patrician team. We have been here before so we know what to expect. We will prepare well and be ready come Friday. Kickoff is 12 noon CT at Troy university. You may purchase tickets at chambers Academy in advance to Friday’s game.” CA only had two TDs but thanks to great team defense, they made them count. The Rebels took the lead at 6-0 at 7:53 of the second quarter. CA’s scoring drive was a textbook, 17-play, 65-yard march for points when quarterback Blake Sheppard connected with Gavin White on a fourth-and-goal at the Abbeville 17. Sheppard lofted a beautiful pass to White in the right back corner of the Abbeville end zone as he hauled in the pass just inside the back pylon on a terrific catch for the score and a 6-0 lead. After a variety of defensive stops by both teams, Abbeville tied the game at 6-all with 8:18 left in the third quarter on a five-yard scoring run around the left flank and just inside the pylon on fourth-and-goal. But when CA needed to respond to the challenge, they did so and in impressive fashion to regain the lead and put up the game-winning points on its next drive. CA marched right down the field and junior C.J. Lyons tallied a nifty 22-yard scoring run to cap an eight-play, 66-yard drive for a 12-6 lead with 6:18 left in the third. Lyons then tacked on the two-point PAT run for a 14-6 lead.That’s how it ended. From that point on, the Rebels defense was absolutely sensational, stopping Abbeville on its next six possessions over the course of the game. CA rushed for a season-low 276 yards and just one rushing TD but when you play dominating defense like they did, it doesn’t matter as you earn the win and move on. Style points don’t matter in the playoffs, having playmakers, stepping up to the challenge and stopping foes is the way to get it done. CA recorded three interceptions as Lyons, Colton Hand and Nate Sheppard all had picks. Matthew Keebler had 110 yards on 26 carries and Lyons added another 102 on 19 attempts and one score. Braxton Allen led the defense with 11 stops and Lyons added seven.