The Wildcats (1-8) scored touchdowns on its first two possessions en route to the 29-0 victory.
While both teams were similar in that they were inexperienced and filled with youth, Berwick head coach Craig Brodie said that Abbeville played harder than his squad did.
While Brodie said he saw some good things from his squad, he said turnovers and penalties plagued them in the loss.
Josh Engleton led the Panthers’ ground game with 74 yards on 11 carries, but the junior fumbled twice.
Quarterback Reed Leonard also threw an interception, although it was on the game’s last play.
The Panthers were penalized nine times for 52 yards, too.
Although Abbeville pitched a shutout, Berwick threatened early. Following a 40-yard kickoff return by Brad Lemoine and a 15-yard facemask penalty against Abbeville on the play, the Panthers began their first offensive series at the Abbeville 40-yard line.
The Panthers (0-9) used their ground attack to move the ball down to the Abbeville 17.
However, the drive stalled following a holding call against the Panthers as well as an incomplete pass on fourth down by Leonard.
Both coaches agreed that a Berwick score on that drive could have impacted the ball game.
“That was a very big stand on the first series of the game,” Abbeville coach Larry Breaux said. “If Berwick scores on that first drive, it may be a whole different game.”
Brodie added, “Their (Abbeville) confidence is shot. They’re 0-8. If we did that (score) it would be like ‘man, here we go again.’ Instead we don’t and they score and we say ‘here we go again.’”
The Abbeville offense responded to the stop with quarterback Ross Duhon exclusively carrying the ball. The signal caller had seven totes for 68 yards on the 73-yard drive. The remaining five yards came via a Berwick offsides penalty on the drive’s first play.
Duhon capped the drive with a 9-yard run with 4:57 remaining in the first quarter.
John Clostion, the Wildcats’ holder on the point after attempt, fielded a high snap and ran it in for the two point conversion and an 8-0 Abbeville lead.
Duhon entered the game with just 110 yards on 34 carries. In Friday’s win alone, he finished with 23 carries for 143 yards and a score.
Abbeville running back Patrick Landry, who entered the game as the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 1,059 yards, added 54 yards on 14 carries and a score.
“What they were leaving open was our quarterback,” Breaux said in explaining Duhon’s increased rushing total. “They weren’t covering the quarterback on the option. They did a good job, I think, of keying on Patrick and our other running backs, but it did leave the quarterback wide open a lot. So he read that and took advantage of it.”
Abbeville finished the night with 314 yards, including 305 on the ground on 52 carries.
Abbeville’s second touchdown was set up on a partial block of a punt by Berwick’s Bryan Hernandez. The punt traveled just eight yards.
The Wildcats, again using its ground game, moved the ball 35 yards in nine plays, capped by a Landry 3-yard run.
Duhon added the extra point for a 14-0 Abbeville lead with 10:29 remaining in the second quarter.
The Wildcats added another score with 3:23 remaining before halftime on a Clyde Mitchell 28-yard run. Duhon’s extra point was good for a 22-0 Abbeville lead.
The Wildcats received the ball to open the second half and moved down the field for its lone second-half score.
The drive, which consumed the first 7 minutes and 42 seconds of the third quarter, was capped by a Mitchell 2-yard run with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter. Duhon’s extra point was good for a 29-0 Abbeville lead.
Mitchell finished the game with 70 yards on five carries and two scores.
While the Wildcats were limited to one second-half score, the Wildcats kept the Berwick offense off the field the entire third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff after the Abbeville score, a Berwick special teams player could not recover a squib kick. Abbeville attempted the short, wobbly kicks on every kickoff after giving up the long return to Lemoine on the game’s opening kickoff.
On the ensuing drive following the successful third-quarter squib kick, the Wildcats moved their way down to the Berwick 26 where the drive stalled one play into the fourth quarter.
Berwick finished the evening with 111 yards of total offense, including 75 on the ground.
Berwick will conclude the season with a District 9-3A matchup at Franklin High School this week.
“We’re trying to build a program and, unfortunately, when you start to build something, you got to tear down the old things and start over. I feel bad for the seniors because they’re going through it,” Brodie said. “I’ve done this a few times (rebuilt programs), and it’s worked. I just wish we could have gotten a couple wins this year. It would have maybe made the kids believe a little bit more. But it is what it is. The fans may not see it (progress at the moment), but the coaches and a lot of kids understand. They see it.”