COLUMBIA — It took Newberry High School head football coach Phil Strickland 29 years to accumulate 299 victories in his coaching career and 18 hours to win his 300th over the weekend in Columbia.
Just 75 seconds into the Bulldogs’ game with Keenan on Friday at Memorial Stadium, a one-hour lightning storm delayed the game then game officials postponed the game until 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Bulldogs won a team best six consecutive seasonal openers as they had their largest margin of victory on the road to begin a season in school history after a 47-14 victory.
Strickland got his first win Sept. 11, 1987, when he led his then Ridge Spring-Monetta team to a 6-0 win over Ware Shoals.
He now joins the ranks of John McKissick, Willie Varner, Pinky Babb, Bill Tate and Bob Rankin in becoming the sixth member of the 300-win club in state history.
Continuing their drive from the previous evening, Amir Abrams scored his first of four touchdowns with a 37-yard run with 9:51 left in the opening quarter. Abrams surpassed the 1,500-yard career rushing mark with the touchdown.
Ethan Day’s PAT kick was good for the 7-0 score.
Keenan’s first three possessions would be three and outs before Jaleel Gilliam’s punt return would end up in a net loss of two yards for Keenan.
Keeping the ball on the ground four straight plays, Abrams scored from a yard out for the 14-0 score with still 6:42 left in the first quarter.
The Newberry offense was back onto the field in just 1:28 and looking at 65 yards in front of them.
Quarterback Tyriq Goodman only went to the air twice in the nine-play scoring drive. Abrams scored his third touchdown of the quarter with 40.5 seconds left on the scoreboard. Day’s PAT was blocked and the score was 20-0.
Keenan fumbled the kickoff reception over to PJ Wright and a penalty placed the ball at the Keenan 32.
Marcus Moore scored four plays later with a four-yard run for the 27-0 score after the missed PAT with 10:49 left in the half.
Going for it on a fourth-and-15, Keenan was sacked for a 13-yard loss, putting Newberry 39 feet from another potential score.
Needing three plays on the ground to cover the distance, Abrams scored from a yard out. The PAT made the score 34-0 with 8:28 left in the half.
Keenan converted a fourth down on their next possession and scored on a 41-yard run. The two-point pass fell incomplete at the 6:04 mark of the second quarter.
Scoring on their sixth straight possession of the first half, Goodman under heavy pressure hit an in-stride RJ Wadsworth for the touchdown and the 41-6 score with 3:12 left in the first half.
James Werts would intercept a Keenan pass where Newberry ended the first half with a knee.
In the first half, Newberry had 216 yards of offense while Keenan had 85.
After holding Keenan to a three and out to start the second half, the Raiders’ punt bounced off a Newberry player’s helmet, and the live ball was recovered by Keenan.
The Raiders scored seven plays later with a two-yard run, ending their scoring with a two-point pass play with 6:40 left in the third quarter for the 41-14 score.
Newberry then answered with a 69-yard scoring drive of its own when Moore scored his second touchdown on the day with a 41-yard run. The PAT was no good. The score was 47-14 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.
On the day, Keenan had seven first downs and a total offense of 160 yards. Newberry had 16 first downs and a total offense of 368 yards.
Along with his four touchdowns, Abrams had 16 carries for 127 yards.
Tony Mason ran the ball seven times for 33 yards, while Moore and KT Robinson had eight carries apiece for 87 and 21 yards, respectively. Goodman and James Kibler each lost yardage on their lone carry.
Kaleb Rosemond had two receptions for 26 yards and Derrick Scurry had two receptions for 32 yards, while Wadsworth had a lone reception.
Next week, Newberry travels to Ninety Six High School in a rivalry that dates back to 1924.