On 4th and 5 with 31 seconds left in Friday night’s game, Lower Richland’s QB Tevaughn Higgins threw a 10-yard TD pass to Deonta Jacobs that let the air out of an energized crowd in Chester.
The Diamond Hornets (2-3) trailed 40-39 because of missed PATs and two-point conversions throughout the game and still needed the conversion for the lead. But Chester’s defense filled the box and stuffed Lower Richland to come out victorious on the Cyclones’ home turf.
Chester (4-1) trailed 19-6 at the half thanks to a big night by Higgins, who passed for two first-half scores and exploded for an additional 83-yard scramble. But the Cyclones came out swinging in the third to score 22 unanswered points and finished with 34 second-half points.
Chester had an opportunity to make it a one-possession game with more than four minutes left in the first half as Lower Richland punted the ball back to the Cyclones.
Chester return man Quay Hardin looked like he was going to let the punt roll but picked it up last second and returned it for a gain of six before the Diamond Hornets forced a fumble. Lower Richland took advantage of the turnover converting it into a 30-yard touchdown connection from Higgins to senior Deamondre Goodwin on fourth down to take a 19-6 lead with 40 seconds left in the first half. That left Victor Floyd’s team with a huge hole to overcome in the second half.
Both team’s running game controlled the action, but Chester chose to pass at opportune times and capitalized on those chances. Senior QB John Erby completed 75 percent of his passes for 188 yards, including four touchdown passes of 20, 23, 30 and 61 yards. On the year, he has 685 passing yards with 12 TDs and just one interception. He added an 18-yard run for his fifth rushing TD of the season for the Cyclones.
Chester’s sophomore lineman Quay Evans picked up a sack of Lower Richland’s elusive QB Tevaughn Higgins, while defensive backs Emmanual Wright, Zion Mills, and TJ Hollis had a couple nice pass deflections throughout the night. The entire Cyclone secondary performed well allowing Higgins to complete only 11 of his 33 passes.
“Our secondary played well,” Floyd said. “Started during the summer with 7-on-7 and it really paid off tonight.”
Higgins ran rampant against Chester and finished with 228 yards on 18 rushes and threw for 175 yards. With most of the rushing yards coming early in the game.
“I don’t know if we ever contained (Higgins),” Floyd admitted. “But we made a couple plays when we needed to.”
Junior Pha’Leak Brown led the Cyclones offense with 170 yards on 15 rushes, including a 74-yard rush on the first play of the second quarter. Two plays later he punched it in with a power 12-yard TD. He finished with 208 total yards, including a 30-yard TD reception to begin the 4th quarter.
“The whole team loves that when we see him break tackles and it just gives the whole team energy,” Erby said.
Senior TJ Hollis only had three receptions but made each one count to finish with a game-high of 90 yards, including scores of 23 and 61 yards.
For the Diamond Hornets, junior Keyshawn Capers joined Higgins with 102 yards of his own on 16 carries, including a 3-yard TD run.
Chester stays at home next week for its matchup against Charlotte’s Carolina Pride on September 22.
Chester 40, Lower Richland 39
LRHS - Karl Scott 12 pass from Tevaughn Higgins (Tyrese Washington PAT no good), 6:42
LRHS - Higgins 83 run (Washington PAT), 4:30
CHS - Pha’Leak Brown 12 run (John Erby PAT no good), 10:59\
LRHS - Deamondre Goodwin 30 pass from Higgins (Washington PAT blocked)
CHS - Erby 18 run (2-pt pass; Erby to Hollis), 10:00
CHS - Hardin 20 pass from Erby (Erby kick), 5:41
CHS - Hollis 23 pass from Erby (Erby kick), 1:50
LRHS - Keyshawn Capers 3 run (2-pt pass; Higgins to Goodwin), :19
CHS - Brown 30 pass from Erby (2-pt failed), 11:24
LRHS - Tyler Singleton 10 run (2-pt failed), 7:07
CHS - TJ Hollis 61 pass from Erby (2-pt failed), 6:21
LRHS - Deonta Jacobs 10 catch from Higgins (2-pt failed), :23
RUSHING CHS: John Erby 15-57; Pha’Leak Brown 15-170; Stan Mills 1-0. LRHS: Tevaughn Higgins 18-228; Keyshawn Capers 16-102; Karl Scott 2-minus 1; Jonathan Myers 1-15; Xavier Hopkins 1-1; Tyler Singleton 8-39.
PASSING CHS: Erby 10-15-0, 188 yards. LRHS: Higgins 11-33-0, 175 yards.
RECEIVING CHS: Jared Dixon 1-5; TJ Hollis 3-90; Brown 2-38; Ja’Rel Hill 1-12; Zion Mills 1-14; Quay Hardin 2-29.
RECORDS Chester 4-1; Lower Richland 2-3.