Chester Quarterback Tony McNeal took the lion share of the blame for two lost fumbles during the center exchange in the shotgun formation in the first half of Friday's clash with Lancaster.
The Cyclone All-American quarterback candidate apologized to his teammates and coaches at the half and made amends on the field, leading Chester to a 49-25 victory over Lancaster before a capacity crowd at Chester Stadium.
Despite the miscues, Chester held a narrow 20-19 lead at the half. The Cyclones came out on fire down the stretch to dominate on both sides of the ball.
McNeal completed 15 of 28 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Cyclones frustrated the Bruins with six quarterback sacks and 13 tackles for loss. The Chester special teams came through with a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
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McNeal explained the first-half miscues as bad execution, but credited his teammates for regrouping.
"I just told the guys to not worry about it; we had two more quarters to play," McNeal said. "It was two bad plays and I told the guys to not get their heads down."
Chester picked up momentum prior to the half when McNeal directed the Cyclones on a five-play, 70-yard scoring drive with just nine seconds remaining. He fired a 10-yard strike to Tevin Worthy, putting Chester ahead, 20-19.
That momentum carried over into the third quarter as Chester took the opening kickoff and marched 56 yards into the end zone. Julius Pendergrass scored the first of his two touchdowns to provide breathing room with an eight-point lead.
A blocked punt on the next Lancaster possession created another Chester score as Pendergrass capped a short drive with a 5-yard scamper.
"We just needed to settle down and give kids the confidence that things would work out," Chester coach Anthony Sterling said. "We had so much adversity with penalties, turnovers and mistakes in the first half. Those are things that we have to continue working on."
Lancaster coach Bennie McMurray said mistakes against a quality opponent like Chester are fatal.
"We knew it would be a tough game; but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. When that happens against a quality opponent, it is very tough to win."
CHESTER 49, LANCASTER 25
CHS -- Brent Minter 1 run (kick blocked)
LHS -- Ervin Moore recovered fumble in end zone (Kewon Anthony kick)
CHS -- K.J. Dixon 89 kickoff return (Austin Kerr kick)
LHS -- Jakeem Brown 2 run (kick blocked)
LHS -- Ervin Moore recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed)
CHS -- Tevin Worthy 3 pass from Tony McNeal (Kerr kick)
CHS -- Julius Pendergrass 4 run (Kerr kick)
CHS -- Pendergrass 5 run (kick failed)
LHS - Keyanthony Foster 8 pass from Shaq Williams (kick failed)
CHS - Pendergrass 3 run (Pendergrass run)
RUSHING -- Chester: Brent Minter 12-34, Julius Pendergrass 8-22, Tony McNeil 7-(-8), K.J. Dixon 2-8, Austin Kerr 1-(-35). Lancaster: Shaq Williams 24-10, Roy Watts 11-38, Quay Roberts 6-11, Jakeem Brown 3-6, Derae Montgomery 1-2, J.J Massey 1-0.
PASSING -- Chester: McNeil 15-28-264-0. Lancaster: Williams 12-23-161-1.
RECEIVING -- Chester: Brent Minter 6-80, Deon Strong 3-80, Tevin Worthy 3-36, Deterrion Hardin 2-34, K.J. Dixon 1-34. Lancaster: Michael Cooper 3-63, Shaq Elder 2-46, Keanthony Foster 2-19, Quay Roberts 1-13, Jakeem Brown 1-7, Darius Cureton 1-7, Otis Alexander 1-7, Roy Watts 1-(-1).
Records: Chester 3-0, Lancaster 1-1.