The road has been rough on the Chester Red Cyclones this football season. But it was especially cruel Friday night.
Chester took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter, but gave up two scores in the last 9 1/2 minutes. Clinton’s Donavan Blackmon scored on a 1-yard run with 39 seconds to play to give the Red Devils a 22-17 victory in a battle of two teams trying to stay in playoff contention in Region III-AAA.
Red Cyclones quarterback Malik Williams rushed 22 times for 101 yards and completed 12 of 19 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown but it wasn’t enough to keep Chester from finishing the regular season winless in away games.
Chester, which has lost three of its last four, wraps up the regular season by hosting Union County next Friday.
They led most of the way in this one, taking a 10-0 lead into halftime on a 28-yard interception return by Pha’Leak Brown the first quarter and a 31-yard field goal by John Erby on the last play of the first half.
But Clinton took the second half kickoff and drove 65 yards for a score, getting the touchdown on a 2-yard run by Blackmon, who finished with 77 yards on 19 carries. Blackmon ran the two-point conversion to trim the Red Cyclones lead to 10-8.
Chester struck back in the last minute of the third quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Albert Thompson to take a 17-8 lead into the last quarter.
The Red Devils shifted the momentum of the game with a 73-yard drive which started on the last play of the fourth quarter. Clinton alternated quarterbacks Charlie Craven and Donte Reeder, with Reeder throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to George Rice with 9:34 left in the game.
Chester, which did a good job of bottling up the Red Devils for three quarters, couldn’t stop Clinton when it counted. The Red Devils last two touchdown drives were 73 and 77 yards.
Chester’s defense picked off two Clinton passes, including Brown’s almost uncontested pick six in the first quarter.
Clinton’s backfield put together a solid if unspectacular 57 carries for 204 yards, but enabled the Red Devils to keep the ball away from Chester at a critical point in the game.
Chester — Pha’Leak Brown 28 interception return (John Erby kick)
Chester — Erby 31 FG
Clinton — Donavan Blackmon 2 run (Blackmon run)
Chester — Albert Thompson 18 pass from Malik Williams (Erby kick)
Clinton — George Rice 24 pass from Charlie Craven (Donavan Blackmon run)
Clinton — Donavan Blackmon 1 run (run failed)
RECORDS: Chester 3-6, 1-3 Region III-AAA; Clinton 3-6, 1-3 Region III-AAA