Victor Floyd bellowed “it’s a great day to be a Cyclone!” and his players roared as Chester celebrated a stepping-stone victory over Lancaster on Friday night.
John Erby’s right foot smashed through a 28-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to give the Cyclones a 24-21 win over the sixth-ranked Bruins. After a couple of rough years for Chester, Floyd’s renaissance is well and truly underway.
“It’s big for us,” said the veteran coach. “You have to look at where we were a year ago. The kids have worked hard to get to this point and they deserve a big win.”
In the same matchup last year, the Cyclones (3-1) led Lancaster 13-7 at the intermission before fading in the second half of a 33-13 loss. Chester got in front 21-7 Friday night, and though the Bruins (2-1) tied the game with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left, Floyd’s team was able to stave off the comeback.
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“I think that’s a sign of growth,” he said. “We played a lot of freshmen last year and we’re starting 11 sophomores and two freshmen now. So we’re growing week-to-week.”
The Bruins played an ugly ballgame and still nearly fought all the way back. The visitors rode Farrika Grier, getting 207 yards and three touchdowns from the talented senior. Starter Ant Foster was hobbled so Grier got the majority of the carries and his two touchdowns in the fourth quarter tied the game, the first a 41-yard run that saw him slip past a defensive back with an ankle-wobbling shimmy before cruising into the end zone.
But Chester’s defense was stout throughout, forcing five Bruins turnovers to get the victory.
“Defense held up well all night, they’re a really good running team. We had to bow our necks a couple times,” said Floyd.
Chester standout QB Malik Williams had a rough first half, missing on his first seven pass attempts. But he got hot at the right moment, hitting on 7 of his last 10 attempts, many of those on the Cyclones’ frantic final drive. He ran for 16 yards for a first and goal at the Lancaster 10, but was sacked by Lancaster’s Houston Brantley. With 12.1 seconds left, Chester sent out junior do-everything athlete Erby, who had four catches for 56 yards, and he smashed through the winning points.
Each team hindered its offensive success by continually getting stuck in third and long situations. But Lancaster inflicted the most damage on itself, giving the ball away five times - three interceptions and two fumbles - and drawing 12 penalties a week after getting flagged 15 times in a narrow win over Fort Mill.
Grier stepped up with Foster hobbled, showing the powerful upright running that makes him as dangerous as his senior backfield mate.
Chester defensive back Quay Hardin snagged an interception on Lancaster’s first offensive possession, before dropping Bruins QB Jamias Shropshire for a 14-yard loss on fourth down to end the visitors’ next drive. Lancaster got the ball back with about 10 seconds left in the game, but Hardin picked off the final pass to seal the huge win.
Williams, the Appalachian State commit, ran the ball 20 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He’s scored at least once in all four games this season.
Lancaster hits the road next week for another tough 5A test, at Nation Ford. Chester travels to Lower Richland; the Cyclones have won all four previous meetings with the Diamond Hornets.
Chester 24, Lancaster 21
CHS – Malik Williams 2 run (John Erby kick), 10:05
LHS – Farrika Grier 3 run (Jacob Cato kick), 00:02
CHS - Williams 2 run (Erby kick), 3:55
CHS - Corey Wright 29 run (Erby kick), 11:33
LHS - Grier 41 run (kick failed), 7:16
LHS - Grier 7 run (2-point run), 3:31
CHS - Erby 28-yard field goal, 00:12
RUSHING LHS - Ant Foster 4-16; Farrika Grier 26-207; Jamias Shropshire 11-81; Ji’Quan Stover 1-(-14). CHS - Malik Williams 23-100; Jalyn Reid 10-39; Corey Wright 3-40.
PASSING LHS - Shropshire 4-17-3, 62 yards. CHS - Zion Mills 1-1-0, 41 yards; Williams 7-17-1, 72 yards.
RECEIVING LHS - Cordarious Tinsley 2-23; Stover 1-19; Ben Rivers 1-20. CHS - John Erby 4-56; NiQuavian Coleman 1-8; Reid 1-41; Terrance Mills 1-9; Wright 1-(-1).
RECORDS Lancaster 2-1; Chester 3-1.