Five Cyclones players combined for seven touchdowns in Chester’s 48-0 blowout of Fort Mill at home Friday night.
Ly’Terrence Mills recorded three interceptions for Chester (2-0) and caught an electric 85-yard touchdown pass that lit the fuse for his team’s dominant offense.
Some have dubbed 2019 the “encore season,” following Chester’s Class AAA state championship title victory back in December. Head coach Victor Floyd said Friday’s performance was a step in the right direction.
“The guys came out and played hard,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but we overcame it today, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Stan Mills (9 for 69 yards, 2 TDs) added short scoring runs from 10 and 8 yards out to end the first half before Ja’Rel Hill added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided.
Chester totaled 259 rushing yards, including 113 by Hill, who was a feature back throughout.
Fort Mill (0-2) simply couldn’t get any rhythm on offense to answer the Cyclones. Starting QB Dylan Helms and backup and Connor Rasmussen threw four combined interceptions. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t hit any paydirt on the ground: The team compiled 4 yards on 30 rushing attempts.
Fort Mill coach Rob McNeely said he told his team that every play was an opportunity they needed to take.
“It’s our ability to take those plays and move on,” McNeely said. “We can’t get outworked, and we’re not going to get outworked.”
Sophomore quarterback Zan Dunham (7-11, 164 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) managed the game well, and spread the ball around to his targets, including wideout Miles Erwin (6-73 yards, 1 TD), who made a highlight diving touchdown catch on an overthrown target to extend the lead to 41-0.
Chester only needed three offensive snaps before lighting up the scoreboard.
Dunham found Mills open on a slant on third and 10 early on Chester’s opening drive. Mills shook off a nearby Fort Mill defender and used his speed to dash past an outpaced Yellow Jackets defense to open the rout.
“He’s a senior, we expect that from him. He played extremely well on both sides of the ball,” Floyd said.
KEY TURNING POINT: Chester’s punishing defense rarely let up. With the Cyclones up 14-0 in the second quarter, Teddy Murphy sacked Helms deep in the pocket to force fourth and 24.
Punter Ben Rich couldn’t handle the ensuing snap and got leveled on the Yellow Jackets’ own 9-yard line. Stan Mills was able to easily capitalize two plays later with an 8-yard stroll into the end zone. The Cyclones never looked back.
KEY PERFORMERS: Murphy had the clutch factor in Friday’s win. He sacked Helms twice -- on third and 17 and third and 20, killing any momentum Fort Mill tried to muster on those drives.
Ly’Terrence Mills also had a game to remember. He picked off Helms in several go-for-it situations, including a fourth and 9 in Chester territory and a would-be end zone attempt. His highlight was snagging a popped-up ball after Khamani Tobias rocked a Fort Mill receiver trying to make a catch.
“I was just doing what I was coached to do throughout the week,” Mills said. “Great things happen when you run to the ball, and I just wanted to run to the ball. We’re doing good so far. Once we get the penalties out of the way, I think we can be better than we were.”
WORTH NOTING: Coming off last year’s undefeated state title-winning season, the Cyclones are unbeaten since Nov. 10, 2017.
FLAGS FLYING: Neither coach was happy about the penalties throughout. The two teams combined for 22 penalties and nearly 200 yards of lost yardage. Dunham gave up his lone pick to Fort Mill’s Salvatore Conforto after false start calls put the Cyclones in a third and 11 deep in their own half.
NEXT GAME: Chester travels next week to District Three Stadium in Rock Hill to face the Rock Hill High Bearcats.
Fort Mill visits the Lancaster High Bruins next Friday.