No. 17 Abbeville trailed No. 16 Brusly by two scores midway through the second quarter.
Despite the two-score deficit, The Wildcats didn’t fold — they responded.
Abbeville (7-4) scored 36 unanswered points to pull off the 36-14 road win in the first round of the Division II non-select playoffs.
“It went about like what I thought it was going to go, both teams running the football and playing the physical brand of ball, so possessions will be limited,” said Brusly coach Hoff Schooler. “They (Abbeville) were doing a good job hanging out on the field, just barely getting first downs, three yards and four yards and two yards. There were a couple of breaks to be had in the ballgame, and we didn’t take advantage of those breaks.”
Abbeville travels to take on No. 1 Iowa next week.
Both teams looked to impose their will early and often through the rushing attack. Brusly (6-5) capped off its opening drive with Cody Loupe’s 26-yard touchdown run.
Abbeville’s first offensive drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock, but it ended in zero points after Brusly’s defense stopped Abbeville on fourth down.
The Wildcat defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs in the redzone on the next possession.
The Panthers got a break when Abbeville’s long snapper sent the ball over the punter’s head in the endzone, and Brusly recovered to take a 14-0 lead with 6:13 left in the second quarter.
Abbeville got on the board when quarterback Tahj Judge connected with Ronale Walker for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The failed 2-point conversion put the score at 14-6 with 1:19 left in the first half.
On the last play of the first half, Brusly freshman backup quarterback Coy Purpera was sacked, and fumbled the ball. Abbeville linebacker Natravian Comeaux scooped the fumble and returned it 66 yards for the score.
The Wildcats converted a 2-point conversion to tie the score at 14 at halftime.
Brusly’s defense forced Abbeville to punt on the first drive of the second half, but the Wildcat offense scored on its net three drives to close out the game.
Abbeville took the lead on Judge’s screen pass to Chad Nolan that he took 36 yards to the house.
Jaysen Shelvin scored on touchdown runs of 18 and 36 yards in the fourth quarter to clinch the win.
“We talked about staying together all week. It’s a playoff game. They’re (Brusly) going to play hard,” said Abbeville coach Roderick Moy. “They don’t want to lose their last game at their place. Sixteen versus 17, we knew it was going to be a close ballgame. They came out fighting. They hit us with the first punch right in the mouth, but our kids were able to withstand it and play hard for 48 minutes and that’s what we’ve been begging for, for the last three weeks. We finally put it together.”
The Wildcats rushed for 277 yards led by Shelvin’s 94 yards and two touchdowns.
“I will say it was a season of adversity, a season of obstacles,” Schooler said. “You know, if you look back, these kids kept fighting every week, no matter who was out or whatever happened. The next man stepped up and played. And so we got a bunch of guys coming back that got experience now and we’ll have a great offseason with them and we’ll be a better football team when we show up next fall.”