It started with a Zaire Davis fumble recovery for a touchdown and ended with a goal-line stand.
That, essentially, told the story from Chester High School’s football field on Friday night.
On the strength of its defense, and with the help of a few miscues from its opponent, Chester got back on track with a win over Columbia (Georgia), 22-6 — after a loss last weekend to Rock Hill that ended the Chester’s 17-game winning streak and questioned the team’s identity.
“No, this isn’t satisfying because we got to go,” said Davis, the senior linebacker/strong safety. “We got to put our names back on the map ... We got to put it in bold letters.”
After a scoreless first quarter and an arguably slower start to the second, the game’s ice broke when Davis found a seam through Columbia’s defensive line on a blitz and picked up a mishandled handoff. He then ran his fumble recovery back from 52 yards. 6-0, Chester.
“My plan was to go hit the quarterback as hard as I can because I am physical, and when I saw the ball on the ground, I’m thinking ‘Touchdown,’ and then I scooped and then scored,” Davis said. He then smiled: “When I ran down the sideline, I felt that someone was running behind me, and it was actually my coach running behind me and cheering me on.”
The play was the highlight of Davis’s day — which ended with four tackles, a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and the scoop and score — and, really, it was the brightest moment of the night for both squads.
That would be the only score of the first half.
Early in the third quarter, the Cyclones would benefit from a mishandled punt and start a possession less than five yards from their own end zone. It would end in a quarterback Zan Dunham rush for a score. A two point conversion made it 14-0.
Columbia responded with a score of their own later in the third, to make it 14-6 — but two possessions later, Chester’s Dunham would find Johnathan Goldsborough for a 57 yard pass, which set up an eventual 8-yard score from Chester captain Ly’Terrence Mills.
Another two point conversion would make the score 22-6. And the score wouldn’t budge any further.
Zan Dunham finished 4-for-9 passing for 91 yards, and he added 20 rushes for 28 yards and a touchdown. Chester incurred 53 yards in penalties.
Chester head coach Victor Floyd said that he’d describe the game as a “defensive battle.”
“I’m not a stat guy really,” Floyd said.
He then pointed to the scoreboard: “Whatever that says, that’s my stat.”
Chester travels to Lancaster on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.