Chambers Academy pulls away from Abbeville in second half, win 45-20
LaFAYETTE — Nobody said that winning 37 consecutive regular season games would come easy.
Friday night marked the second-straight week that the AISA No. 4-ranked Chambers Academy Rebels faced a deficit before ultimately coming back to win the game 45-20.
“I thought we were flat,” Chambers Academy head football coach Jason Allen said. “It’s human nature, we came off of an unbelievable win last week against Tuscaloosa Academy, one of the top teams in the state and you could see it all week. I tried to prepare the guys, it’s tough, but there’s no excuse. You’ve got to be ready to play. You only play one football game a week. You’ve got to get ready, that’s my fault, you’ve got to get prepared, we’ve got to be prepared to get the best shot from everybody we play because we have a target on our backs right now.”
The Rebels’ offense was guided under the leadership of its veteran backfield in junior quarterback Payton Allen and senior running back Braxton Allen. Payton finished the game with 227 yards on 25 carries, while Braxton finished with 85 rushing yards on 15 carries.
“I love playing with Braxton, that’s my second cousin, I work with him in the summer,” Payton said. “He’s a great kid and he plays hard, he’s a really good football player. He may not be the fastest guy, but he plays the hardest and has the most heart. I wouldn’t want to have any other running back for me.”
Braxton scored the first touchdown of the night on a short run at the 5:41 mark in the first quarter. Braxton Allen then converted the two-point conversion with a similar run.
Penalties were also a big theme of the first half in particular for the Rebels.
“I’m not going to get on our kids about that, but we’ve got to do better,” Coach Allen said. “We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to clean up the penalties because they hurt us tonight they put us in some bad situations.”
After a fumble recovery from senior Caydon Smoot, Chambers senior Raphe Daniel garnered a big gain from a reception that was called back due to a Rebels’ penalty. Daniel was also injured at the end of the play and was carted back into the locker room at halftime. The Rebels finished the drive featuring the called-back reception with a punt.
Abbeville took occasional shots to the end zone in the first half before hauling in an impressive touchdown catch at the 9:55 mark in the second quarter. Abbeville attempted to tie the game with a fake field goal throw that fell incomplete on the two-point conversion attempt.
Payton Allen broke for a big run with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, but an Abbeville defender punched out the ball for a fumble.
Penalties called back two more big plays for the Rebels near the end of the first half, a punt return touchdown for Payton Allen and an interception for Smoot.
The close contest created an eerily quiet crowd on top of Tolbert field.
“Some people were worried probably,” Payton said. “We knew were going to keep playing hard and [I] appreciate all the fans coming out. There’s always a lot of people here, and we just play hard for them.”
Abbeville’s quarterback was blitzed by Rebels freshman linebacker Gavin Kite before getting the ball off in time to get the visitors to the goal line. Abbeville scored a couple of plays later and took a 14-6 lead after converting the gso-point conversion.
Braxton then tied the game with a touchdown reception with 14 seconds remaining in the half.
In the second half, Payton’s scrambling began to wear down the Abbeville defense as he broke free to run for three touchdowns in the final two quarters of the night.
“I was just running as hard as I could and the offensive line did a nice job of blocking,” Payton said. “It was mainly just them, and I ran as hard as I could.”
Junior wide receiver Josh Holliday also made a big catch in the second half as Chambers began to pull away.
Braxton led the defense with 10 tackles, Dijon Darden finished with nine tackles and two sacks, Smoot had five tackles and three pass break-ups, while Cade Tarver had five tackles and one sack. Jordan Benbrook also scored a rushing touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
Chambers Academy returns home next week to host Cornerstone for a region game.