Chester ventured to Fort Mill Friday looking to expand the success its ground game enjoyed last week against Aiken.
Fort Mill hoped to rebound from last week’s result at River Bluff with much the same game plan.
The Cyclones’ dominant offensive line served them well, blocking for a combined 443 rushing yards on 53 carries, as Chester left Bob Jones Stadium with a physical, 28-20, victory over the Yellow Jackets.
“(The offensive line) played well, played really well,” said Chester coach Victor Floyd. “From tackle to tackle, we played real well.”
The first half was a tale of two quarters. Fort Mill (0-2) took a 14-0 lead on two one-yard Sebastian Lach touchdown totes, the latter of which being tallied as the quarter drew to a close.
Lach recorded 72 yards in that opening stanza.
Chester (2-0) countered in the second quarter, at one point running the ball on 20 straight plays. The Cyclones kept the Yellow Jackets’ defense on skates for much of the period, with a one-yard carry from Stan Mills knifing the lead in half. Emmanual Wright then galloped 23 yards to the end zone with 1:13 remaining before the half, drawing the contest level.
“The guys up front feel like they can carry the load, so we had to lean on them tonight,” said Floyd.
Chester quickly took the lead on a Dunham-to-Zion Mills 14-yard touchdown hookup. The Jackets countered with another short Lach score, but had an unsuccessful conversion attempt to tie the game midway through the third.
Pha’Leak Brown sprinted 61 yards to the end zone to put Chester ahead for good with 2:44 to play.
Chester lost a fumble inside the Fort Mill 10 with just over nine minutes to play, looking as though it was positioned to go ahead by a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets regained the ball at their 13, going on an 11- play drive that eventually ended on downs. Floyd praised freshman quarterback Zan Dunham for staying composed after the play.
“He’s very composed for a young guy,” said Floyd. “He bounced back and led us down the field. That was huge in his maturation process, for him to be able to overcome a bad play, make up for it, and still have a drive to score, so that was huge.”
Brown seemed to change the dynamic on the ground for the Cyclones as a compliment to junior rusher Stan Mills. The senior star broke off several long runs, including one that was called back on a penalty.
“He just started being Pha’Leak,” said Floyd. “Stan was doing so much on defense, (and) Pha’Leak wasn’t playing as much defense. Whoever the odd guy is off the field on defense, that’s who we’re going to use on offense, because all three start on (defense).”
Brown’s 15 carries and 205 yards paced the Cyclones, leading three Chester rushers with 12 carries or greater on the evening. Dunham rushed 15 times for 79 yards, with Mills tallying 77 and a score on 12 attempts. Lach shouldered the load for the Yellow Jackets, carrying 34 times for 175 yards and three trips to the paint. Floyd credited his defense’s intensity for keeping Lach’s big plays at bay in the closing 24. Junior Dylan Helms completed 11-of-21 throws for Fort Mill.
Chester hosts Rock Hill next Friday. Fort Mill travels to Lancaster. Both games are slated for a 7:30 start.
Chester 28, Fort Mill 20
Fort Mill 14;0;6;0;-;20
FM – Sebastian Lach 1 run (Ben Rich kick) 6:52
FM – Lach 1 run (Rich kick) :46
C – Stan Mills 1 run (Corey Wade kick) 10:12 C – Emmanual Wright 23 run (Wade kick) 1:13
C – Zion Mills 14 pass from Zan Dunham (Wade kick) 10:14
FM – Lach 4 run (conversion failed) 6:16 Fourth quarter
C – Pha’Leak Brown 61 run (Wade kick) 2:44.
RUSHING Chester: Zion Mills 3-25; Zan Dunham 15-79; Emmanual Wright 8-57; Pha’Leak Brown 15- 205; Stan Mills 12-77. Fort Mill: Sebastian Lach 34-175; Dylan Helms 12-(-14); Cam Saunders 1-8; Alan Stevens 1-4.
PASSING Chester: Dunham 4-8-1-51 yards. Fort Mill: Dylan Helms 11-21-0-76 yards.
RECEIVING Chester: Ja’Rel Hill 1-6; Emmanual Wright 1-8; Zion Mills 2-37. York: Alan Stevens 5-39; Caleb Smith 3-20; Josh Cloud 1-5; Sebastian Lach 2-12; Cam Saunders 1-2.
RECORDS Chester 2-0, Fort Mill 0-2.