It was a night of electric 3A state playoff football Friday night in Chester as the Cyclones rolled to a 61-28 victory against Powdersville, avenging their postseason loss to the Patriots from a year ago.
The Cyclones jumped out to a quick 15-0 lead, before Powdersville’s run game wreaked havoc on Chester. Powdersville led 21-15 before Chester came storming back, scoring two touchdowns in the first half’s final minute of play, including a crucial interception by junior Dorrien Bagley that allowed Chester to take a 29-21 lead into the half.
“(It) was a huge play, big time play at the right time,” Cyclones coach Victor Floyd said. “We gotta play a little better in the first half (next week).”
Led by a 393-yard passing effort by senior QB John Erby, Floyd has the Cyclones in the second round for the second consecutive season and will face No. 1-ranked Chapman on Nov. 10. At one point, Erby connected on nine straight passes for 223 yards.
“John played well. I thought he bounced back. He struggled a little bit against Fairfield, but bounced back tonight,” Floyd said.
All the momentum was in Powdersville’s favor midway through the second quarter after the visitors scored 21 unanswered points. The running combo of E.J. Humphrey and Tay Cureton wreaked havoc on the Chester defense.
But Erby turned a broken play into a 34-yard TD connection to Quay Hardin, who grabbed it with one hand, to give the Cyclones a 22-21 lead. With the way Powdersville was running the ball, it seemed all too likely that lead would be short-lived. But Powdersville QB Keith Becknell dropped back for a deep pass and it was picked off, landing in the sure hands of Bagley with 26 seconds left on Chester’s own 46-yard line.
Erby quickly found TJ Hollis for a 47-yard connection down to the 8-yard line to pave the way for another Erby-to-Hardin TD, this time an 8-yard score and a 29-21 halftime lead.
Chester’s four interceptions Friday night came at big moments for the Cyclones.
The first, by Bagley, with 26 seconds left In the second quarter, gave Chester a chance to make it a two-possession game. In the fourth quarter, Powdersville was driving to mount a 20-point comeback, but Pha’Leak Brown picked off another pass and returned it nearly 50 yards down to the 1-yard line, setting up an Emmanual Wright TD. The third came with 8:38 left in the game when Zion Mills ended another promising Powdersville drive by picking off a pass at the 7-yard line. And Hardin intercepted Becknell in the end zone with 30 seconds left in the contest.
Hardin was a hot target for Erby, finishing with eight catches for 126 yards while adding 26 rushing yards on a jet sweep and the interception with 30 seconds left to ice the game. Hollis was another big-time connection for Erby, totaling 156 yards on just three catches, including an 85-yard TD score.
For Powdersville, Humphrey dominated on the ground with 173 yards on 24 carries and 2 TD. The Patriots racked up 277 rushing yards, though much of that came in the first half.
“It was just a matter of being in the right spot and making a play,” Floyd said. “We didn’t make any changes really, we just turned the heat up.”
Erby led Chester with 83 yards on 23 carries, while Brown added 80 on 16 carries. Wright chipped in 40 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards and 2 TDs.
Chester will take on Chapman on Nov. 10 in the second round. The defending 3A state champion Panthers beat Crescent, 57-13, on Friday night.
Chester 61, Powdersville 28
CHS - Pha’Leak Brown 3 run (Erby kick), 8:12
CHS - Emmanual Wright 15 run (Erby to Hardin, 2 pt), 6:54
PHS - Tay Cureton 10 run (Collin Beck PAT), 4:08
PHS - EJ Humphrey 17 run ( Beck kick), 2:23
PHS - Humphrey 4 run (Beck kick), 8:25
CHS - Quay Hardin 34 pass from Erby (Erby kick), :59
CHS - Hardin 8 pass from Erby (Erby kick), :26
CHS - Hollis 85 pass from Erby (Missed PAT), 9:54
PHS - Gavin Agin 90 kick return (Beck kick), 9:36
CHS - Emmanual Wright 67 run (Missed PAT), 0:00
CHS - Wright 1 run (2-pt failed), 9:32
CHS - Brown 2 run (Erby kick), 5:28
RUSHING CHS: Pha’Leak Brown 16-80; John Erby 23-83; Emmanual Wright 10-40; Quay Hardin 1-26; Zion Mills 1-20. PHS: EJ Humphrey 24-173; Tay Cureton 8-59; Keith Becknell 8-21; Jordan Meekins 1-24.
PASSING CHS: John Erby 18-26-0, 393 yards. PHS: Keith Becknell 5-14-4, 56 yards.
RECEIVING CHS: Zion Mills 2-10; Ja’Rel Hill 1-31; Emmanual Wright 1-15; Quay Hardin 8-126; Terrence Mills 2-21; TJ Hollis 3-156. PHS: Jordan Meekins 3-45; EJ Humphrey 2-11.
RECORDS Chester 9-2; Powdersville 6-6.