This wasn’t the way Chapin wanted to go out.
Long after the Eagles dropped a 49-24 decision to Hartsville in the Class 4A Lower State championship, the Chapin players lingered in the end zone at Cecil Woolbright Field offering condolences to each other.
It was an uncharacteristic night in which the Eagles suffered four turnovers and gave up big play after big play to the Red Foxes.
“You can’t put the ball on the ground against a good team like that,” Chapin coach Justin Gentry said. “You just can’t play a good team like Hartsville and turn the ball over and we did. But we overcame a lot of adversity – a lot of stuff people don’t know these kids overcame – and I couldn’t be more proud of them. This one will hurt for a while.”
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Chapin (11-3) made a game of it for a half, but wilted under the second half onslaught of 35 points by Hartsville (13-1).
The Red Foxes scored on a kickoff return, a long pass and three drives that covered 24, 49 and 58 yards in the second half to return to the state championship for the first time since 2014.
“This is a total surprise,” Hartsville coach Jeff Calabrese said. “They’ve worked so hard and I can’t do anything but smile. I’m so proud of the kids and everything they’ve been through to get to a state championship.”
Steve Joyner proved to be the difference on offense for Hartsville. The Red Foxes don’t throw it much, but when they do, the senior receiver is the main option. He caught four passes from his cousin, quarterback AJ Joyner, for 161 yards. He scored on passes of 63 and 53 yards.
Tiyon Evans ran for 170 yards as Hartsville finished with 456 yards of total offense.
Chapin tried to stay in it behind the quarterback duo of Cooper Bemis and Trad Beatty. They combined to complete 31 passes for 257 yards as they didn’t have time to attack downfield against the Red Foxes’ aggressive front.
Trailing 14-10 at the half, Chapin was looking to get a quick stop to open the second half. Instead, James Clair fielded the kickoff at the 1-yard line and split the Eagles kick coverage for a 99-yard touchdown. That began the second half onslaught for the Red Foxes.
Cole Owens: The senior caught 10 passes for 72 yards and one touchdown, and threw for 32 yards in the losing effort.
Trad Beatty: The junior QB completed 15 of 19 passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns for Chapin.
225: Yards Hartsville gained on their seven touchdowns
2: Rushing yards for Chapin in second half.
THEY SAID IT
“We preached kickoff coverage all week, and the guys went down and didn’t execute what they were supposed too. They got the big play,” Gentry
“We felt with the cold weather we would have a chance to return one and we were able to take it the distance. That was a big, big momentum swing.” Calabrese
How they scored
H – Steve Joyner 63 pass from AJ Joyner (Miller Braddock kick) 9:38
C – Scott Samson 29 FG 0:26
C – Kale Rhame 40 pass from Trad Beatty (Samson kick) 9:42
H – AJ Joyner 1 run (Braddock kick) 8:40
H – James Clair 99 kickoff return (Braddock kick) 11:45
H – Tiyon Evans 3 run (Braddock kick) 6:03
H – S. Joyner 53 pass from AJ Joyner (Braddock kick) 1:24
C – Cole Owens 21 pass from Beatty (Samson kick) 10:51
H – Clair 3 run (Braddock kick) 6:49
C – Xzavion Gordon 10 pass from Beatty (Samson kick) 5:22
H – Jalen Jacobs 3 run (Braddock kick) 3:53
Rushing: H: Tiyon Evans 12-170, AJ Joyner 4-1, Collins Bishop 6-26, James Clair 13-59, Jalen Jacobs 5-37, Trae Brown 1-2. C: Trad Beatty 6-21, Cooper Bemis 9-38, Case Barber 2-13, Nick Price 1-4, Cole Owens 1-0, Xzavion Gordon 1-4, Will Shealy 1-4.
Passing: H: AJ Joyner 4-6-0-161. C: Bemis 16-26-1-118, Beatty 15-19-0-139, Owens 1-1-0-32.
Receiving: H: Steve Joyner 4-161. C: Gordon 6-61, Owens 10-72, Kale Rhame 5-102, Barber 6-50, Will Register 3-25, Will Shealy 2-7.