Chester football’s 2018 season motto is “Next Step.”
The Cyclones took the next step Friday night, burying Southside 48-20 in the third round of the 3A football state playoffs on a raw and rainy Friday night. Chester is headed back to the Upper State championship game for the first time since 2008.
The host Cyclones (13-0) easily topped 300 yards on the ground for the sixth straight game, finishing with 413 and piling up 225 of those in a game-winning first half. Southside’s six turnovers ensured that the contest was only close for the first quarter.
“The weather conditions played into our hands,” said Chester coach Victor Floyd. “We played pretty solidly.”
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A close game quickly fell apart for Southside early in the second quarter. Trailing Chester 14-6, the Tigers, who were in the third round for the first time ever, fumbled on their 37-yard line and Stan Mills scored the very next play for the Cyclones, racing 37 yards to the end zone for a 20-6 lead. Southside fumbled twice and was intercepted once on its next three possessions, leading to 14 more points and a very comfortable 34-6 halftime lead for the Cyclones.
The list of South Carolina high school football teams that overcame four first half turnovers to win a playoff game must be short. The Tigers did not join that list Friday night, their four giveaways digging a hole, with a backhoe not a shovel, that they couldn’t overcome.
“We got that many turnovers and that type of lead, we can eat some clock,” Floyd said.
Brown had another big game for the Cyclones, rushing for 131 yards and four touchdowns, three of them in the first half. Emmanuel Wright and Stan Mills also took turns ripping off long runs, wearing down the visitors in the process. Mills and QB Zan Dunham added first half touchdowns when the Cyclones seemingly put the game away.
Chester’s defense bent a bit in the first half as Southside tried to smash over the Cyclones with an unusual formation of seven offensive linemen and three fullbacks on the right half of the set. And the ploy worked, but for the three fumbles the Tigers lost. Dorrien Bagley and Montez Hall recovered fumbles, Twan Patton forced one with a huge sack of Southside QB Jamie Gamble and Ly’Terrence Mills intercepted a Jalon Calhoun pass. Patton had several tackles-for-loss and Bagley finished the game with two fumble recoveries.
“In practice they push us hard to make a big play,” said Bagley. “That was our goal, to get turnovers.”
Chester travels to Union County Nov. 30 to play the Yellow Jackets in the 3A Upper State championship game. Union County edged Chapman 27-26 Friday night. Chester would have played next week’s game on the road regardless of which team won because of a pre-set 3A playoff bracket.
Southside;6;0;6;8 - 20
Chester;14;20;0;12 - 48
CHS -- Pha’Leak Brown 14 run (2-point pass failed), 6:23
SHS -- Braydon Bennett 43 run (2-point run failed), 5:32
CHS -- Terrence Mills 8 pass from Zan Dunham (Dunham 2-point run), 0:47
CHS -- Stan Mills 37 run (2-point run failed), 11:43
CHS -- Brown 32 run (Dunham 2-point run), 3:10
CHS -- Brown 2 run (2-point pass failed), 0:29
CHS -- Bennett 8 run (2-point run failed), 1:40
CHS -- Brown 21 run (2-point run failed), 10:05
CHS -- Ja’Rel Hill 28 run (Dunham 2-point run), 4:45
SHS -- Marc Smith 55 pass from Jalon Calhoun (2-point run), 0:59
RUSHING SHS: Marc Smith 2-5, Braydon Bennett 16-89, Jamie Gamble 2-(-8), Jalon Calhoun 3-(-14), Trayy Oglesby 5-32. CHS: Pha’Leak Brown 14-131, Myles Erwin 1-5, Zan Dunham 13-73, Ja’Rel Hill 9-68, Stan Mills 8-51, Emmanuel Wright ENTER.
PASSING SHS: Gamble 1-1-0, 6 yards, Calhoun 6-17-1, 108 yards. CHS: Dunham 4-9-1, 30 yards, Mills 0-1-0.
RECEIVING SHS: Tay Jefferies 2-7, Smith 3-74, K. Hunter 1-35, Oglesby 1-2. CHS: Erwin 2-14, Terrence Mills 1-8, Brown 1-8.
RECORDS Southside 9-4; Chester 13-0.