Cycs roll into second round with rout of Pats

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By Travis Jenkins

Playoff football is all about a “survive and advance” mentality. For Chester on Friday night, it was more about “avenge and advance.”

Facing the same Powdersville Patriots team that knocked them out of the 2016 playoffs in a double-overtime shootout, Chester overcame a second quarter deficit and rolled to a huge 61-28 victory on Friday.

Early on, there was no indication that Chester would ever find itself in a hole. Pha’Leak Brown finished off an early drive with a three-yard touchdown run and Emmanuel Wright scored on a 15-yard run and Chester led 15-0 in the early going.

Powdersville had featured a prolific passing offense at times this year, with quarterback Keith Becknell offering up an eight-touchdown pass performance against Berea a few weeks ago. He’d have a tough night against the outstanding Chester secondary, though, managing only a handful of completions. So, the Patriots turned to the ground game and found success. Tay Cureton and E.J. Humphries ate up big chunks of yardage on the ground and each scored a rushing touchdown before the end of the first quarter to pull their team to within 15-14.

Powdersville actually surged ahead in the second quarter, with Humphrey scoring again on the ground to put the visitors ahead 21-15.  That score held until the final minute of the half.

“Offensively, we got going pretty good,” said Chester Coach Victor Floyd.

That is an understatement. Over the next 25 minutes, Chester would score 46 points. That started when Quay Hardin, who had a huge night, reeled in a 34-yard scoring throw from John Erby to send his team back in front 22-21. Dorrien Bagley then gave his team an opportunity to build the momentum even further with a big interception. The Cyclones took advantage, with Erby connecting with Hardin for another touchdown pass and just like that, Chester had a 29-21 lead at the break.

The Cyclones continued their roll in the third quarter with T.J. Hollis getting behind the secondary and then outrunning the entire Powdersville defense on an 85-yard touchdown pass from Erby. The Patriots got a lucky bounce, literally, to stay in it briefly.

“It was a weird play,” Floyd said. “On the kickoff return, we hit the guy, he fumbles and bounces right into a guy’s lap, who runs it back.”

That score wasn’t enough to slow down the Chester offensive onslaught, though. Wright ripped off a touchdown run from 66 yards out, tacked on a one-yarder in the fourth and Brown scored from in close to seal the deal.

Erby offered up one of the most prolific offensive performances in school history, with 508 total yards and four total touchdowns. Hardin ended the night with 10 grabs for 192 yards and a pair of scores, Hollis had 136 receiving yards and Wright rushed for 110 yards on only 11 carries. As a team, Chester piled up almost 700 yards of offense. Just as importantly, after a rough patch late in the first quarter and early in the second, the Chester defense did not allow another touchdown.