CHAPIN - First-year Chapin coach Scott Earley has said repeatedly that his seventh-ranked Eagles were lucky to be unbeaten at this point.
But after Colden King kicked a 25-yard field goal with 1:41 remaining to give Chapin a 24-21 victory against ninth-ranked Lugoff-Elgin on Friday night, Earley might have to start giving his team a little more credit.
Or maybe not.
"I think we're lucky to be in the position we are in," Earley said. "These kids believe in what we are teaching and don't believe they will lose in a close situation at the end. I guess you call it a strong will to win just because we think we can."
It took a few key defensive plays and an offense that was led by Josh Sanga and Michael Weimer for Chapin to win this one.
The Eagles (6-0, 1-0 in Region 4-3A) entered the game without three defensive starters and lost three more to injuries during the game, but they came up with three turnovers in their territory to keep things close.
Bradham Wilder intercepted a pass in the end zone, and Zach Gause picked off another pass to stop drives in the second half. The Demons also had a turnover at the Chapin 30-yard line in the first half.
"That's the story of the game," Lugoff-Elgin coach Scott Jones said. "Turning (over) the ball like that has not been a characteristic for us, but you can't make mistakes like that against a team that is playing with a lot of confidence like Chapin is. We didn't make plays on either side of the ball, and that ended up costing us."
With the game knotted at 7 halftime, the Demons struck quickly with a 60-yard scoring run by Julian Baxter to open the second half. Chapin answered with a 42-yard scoring run by Sanga three plays later.
Sanga finished with 173 yards on 19 carries.
Lugoff-Elgin opened the fourth quarter with a 9-yard scoring run by Stephen Pauling. But the Eagles again struck quickly when Weimer hit a wide-open Jalen Pauling on a 42-yard touchdown pass four plays later.
Weimer finished 17-for-24 for 167 yards and didn't commit a turnover.
That set the stage for King's late heroics. Chapin took possession with 6:18 remaining and used 10 plays to run the clock down until King kicked the game-winner.
"I thought going in it was a mismatch in the favor of Lugoff-Elgin," Earley said. "I think we were lucky to be close late. We made some plays when we had and did just enough to pull it out."
The Demons (4-2, 0-1) got on the board first thanks to the Eagles having an injury issue at punter. Brian Langlois was injured playing defense, and Chapin struggled in the kicking game. With the Eagles backed up deep in their territory, Trey Poston returned a short punt 25 yards to the Eagles' 26-yard line.
Three plays later, Forrest Koumas connected with E.J. Ruiz on a 10-yard scoring pass.
Chapin answered with a 13-play, 77-yard drive that ended with 36 seconds remaining in the half. The Eagles converted a fourth-and-3 from the Demons' 8-yard line when Sanga hauled in a deflected screen pass and fought his way just past the yard marker.
After the Eagles spiked the ball to stop the clock, wide receiver Victor Frick lined up at quarterback and did his best Tim Tebow impression by running into the line then throwing a 5-yard jump pass to a wide open Conner Lowder.
Lugoff-Elgin 0 7 7 7-21
Chapin 0 7 7 10-24
L-E - E.J. Ruiz 10 pass from Forrest Koumas (Grayson Quick kick), 9:48
CH - Conner Lowder 5 pass from Victor Frick (Colden King kick), :36
L-E - Julian Baxter 60 run (Quick kick), 9:53
C - Josh Sanga 42 run (King kick), 9:11
L-E - Stephen Bonaparte 9 run (Quick kick), 9:46
CH - Jalen Pauling 42 pass from Michael Weimer (King kick), 8:22
CH - King 25 FG, 1:41
First Downs 16 16
Rushes-yds 37-327 30-176
Passing yds 84 173
Comp-Att-Int 7-22-2 18-25-0
Punts 3-37 5-25.8
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 1-0
Penalties 8-90 6-60
Rushing - LE: F. Koumas 11-106, J. Baxter 5-80, S. Bonaparte 10-87 . CH: J. Sanga 19-173.
Passing - LE: F. Koumas 7-20-2-84. CH: M. Weimer 17-24-0-168.
Receiving - LE: J. Baxter 3-48, E.J. Ruiz 1-10, D. Alexander 3-26. CH: J. Sanga 5-28, V. Frick 7-70, C. Lowder 4-27.