After being dominated - and even a little embarrassed - by Abbeville in the first half Friday, the Silver Bluff Bulldogs were met by coach Al Lown.
Following the game, Lown said he challenged his team. Offensive lineman Joey Lucero said Lown's halftime speech was much more than that.
"Coach said if we didn't come out and gave everything we had, some us weren't going to be playing anymore," Lucero said. "I felt like he was talking to every single guy here. We all had more to give. It's never nice to hear that."
What followed in the next 24 minutes might have turned Silver Bluff's season around.
Yes, the No. 6 Bulldogs couldn't overcome a 21-point halftime deficit and fell 28-19 to third-ranked Abbeville.
But as they scored 12 unanswered points in the final two quarters - and drove deep in Panthers territory late in the fourth quarter before an interception ended their chances - the Bulldogs grew up a little.
Twenty-four minutes might give Silver Bluff a boost that lasts all season.
"We had adversity come up and hit us pretty hard," Lucero said. "But it's all about mental toughness when you're down."
Although they allowed Abbeville (2-1) 327 rushing yards in the first half - including 185 to quarterback Rod Freeman - Silver Bluff shut down the Panthers in the second.
On Abbeville's first three possessions in the third quarter, the Bulldogs gave up just 15 yards and forced a fumble.
"We got off to a slow start, and we have to come out with a little more fire," said linebacker Charles Chavous, who helped limit the Panthers to 89 total yards in the second half. "I can't explain what happened. But we showed a lot of heart. We showed what we can do in (Class) AA ball."
The Bulldogs will get another chance in the next few weeks.
After playing a tough Swansea squad, they'll tangle with Class AAAA South Aiken before opening their Region 5-AA schedule by playing preseason favorite Jasper County at home.
Friday's comeback will help.
"This could be something good we look back on," Lown said. "When things go bad, I tell the team that they can do three things. They can (run away), they can do nothing or they can fight back. We fought back. That's a quality that we can take with us."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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