Friday night served as two anniversaries of sorts at Lancaster Memorial Stadium. The school honored the stadium’s opening 50 years ago, while breaking in its newest feature, a plush new turf field that will host the Bruins.
After an opening stanza that may have more closely resembled that first night in 1967, visiting Chester clicked on offense in the second half, pulling away from Lancaster in a 43-22 victory.
A first-half slugfest saw just over 100 yards of total offense for both clubs, but just one score. Midway through the second quarter, Chester quarterback John Erby found T.J. Hollis from seven yards out to put the Cyclones on the board to cap a 17-play, 80-yard drive.
The final Cyclone drive of the first half nearly saw the game tied, as Lancaster’s Zion Duncan picked off a Cyclone pass at the 38 and appeared headed for pay dirt. The interception was waved off, however, as a roughing the passer penalty extended the Cyclones’ possession. A Chester field goal try was blocked just before the half-closing horn sounded, denying the Cyclones a chance to stretch their advantage.
The second half proved to be quite the different story.
A wild third quarter ensued, in which both teams found the end zone twice. Star Cyclone junior running back Pha’Leak Brown carried 13 times for greater than 75 yards in that period alone, scoring on a 10-yard lob from Erby in the left corner of the end zone and a three-yard run. Lancaster (1-2) got their two scores in the period sandwiched around Brown’s trips to the paint, as Kemarkio Cloud scored on a 12-yard naked bootleg to tie the contest early in the quarter, and a four-yard Ke’Daivdion Talford run cut the margin to 23-14.
Chester (3-1) got a one-yard touchdown run from Erby to begin the period, extending the Cyclones’ lead to 29-14. Ason’ta Clark scored a touchdown and two-point conversion on the Bruins’ ensuing possession, slicing the margin to 29-22. Lancaster could draw no closer, however, as Erby again found Hollis for six, then punctuated the evening’s scoring with another one-yard touchdown scamper.
Brown’s entry in the third quarter seemed to change the complexion of the game. The Cyclones played the first half without the junior star, as he had his right hand wrapped in warmups, and appeared to struggle a bit in handling the ball. The Cyclones compensated with a lot of five-wide looks and zone read formations.
“He just pleaded his case at the half,” said Chester coach Victor Floyd of Brown. “He said he could go, so I let him go.” Floyd continued, “He’s one of the key parts of the engine that makes it run. Getting him back in the game in the second half and playing made a big difference.”
Floyd added that he believes Brown will recover from the injury without issue, stating, “it’ll be a process.”
The zone read paid big dividends for the Cyclones in Brown’s absence, as Erby and rushers Jarel Hill and Stan Mills were able to run successfully enough to open space for big pass plays down the field.
“That’s (the zone read) kind of our bread and butter,” said Floyd. “We have to make it work. Even if it’s getting stopped, we have to keep running it.”
Erby added, “We just kept pushing. Sooner or later, it just started clicking.”
Erby was responsible for five of his team’s six touchdowns, rushing for two and throwing for three. Two of those touchdown passes went to senior wideout T.J. Hollis, who caught nine passes for nearly 160 yards and those two touchdowns. “That’s my cousin, man. We’ve got good chemistry together,” stated Erby with a smile when speaking of the connection between the two. Erby connected with six different Cyclone receivers through the air, going 20-for-30 for 237 yards. The senior signal-caller also rushed 17 times for 59 yards. Brown played just the final two quarters, but still managed to notch 21 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Cloud carried 12 times for 116 yards for Lancaster, finding the end zone once. Clark carried 11 times for 73 yards for the Bruins.
Chester hosts Lower Richland next Friday. Lancaster hosts Nation Ford. Both games are set to begin at 7:30.
Chester 43, Lancaster 22
Chester 0;7;16;20 - 43
Lancaster 0;0;14;8 - 22
CHS – T.J. Hollis 7 pass from John Erby (Erby kick) 6:58
LHS – Kemarkio Cloud 12 run (Jacob Cato kick) 10:38
CHS – Pha’Leak Brown 10 pass from Erby (Quay Hardin pass from Erby) 7:07
CHS – Brown 3 run (Brown pass from Erby) 2:53
LHS – Ke’Daivdion Talford 4 run (Cato kick) 2:11
CHS – Erby 1 run (conversion failed) 10:33
LHS – Ason’ta Clark 2 run (Clark run) 9:09
CHS – Hollis 26 pass from Erby (Erby run) 6:07
CHS – Erby 1 run (conversion failed) 4:24
RUSHING Chester: Stan Mills 3-10; John Erby 17-59; Jarel Hill 1-3, Pha’Leak Brown 21-117. Lancaster: JiQuan Stover 5-9; Kemarkio Cloud 12-116; Ben Rivers 3-8; Ke’Daivdion Talford 10-38; Ason’ta Clark 11-73; Dontavious Blair 1-minus 4.
PASSING Chester: Erby 20-30-0-237 yards. Lancaster: Cloud 4-12-0-73 yards.
RECEIVING Chester: Ly’Terrence Mills 1-8; Quay Hardin 4-34; Terrence Mills 2-17; T.J. Hollis 9-157; Jarel Hill 3-11; Pha’Leak Brown 1-10. Lancaster: Christian Woodard 3-53; Desmond Stowers 1-20.
RECORDS Chester 3-1, Lancaster 1-2.