Chester ended its long title drought and beat one of the state’s top programs to do it.
Pha’Leak Brown ran for three touchdowns as the Cyclones held on in the final minute to defeat Dillon, 34-28, to win the Class 3A championship at Williams-Brice Stadium.
It was the Cyclones’ first title since 1963. Dillon was going for its sixth title in the past seven years.
Dillon trailed 34-12 but made a furious second-half comeback. The Wildcats got within 34-20 and were driving but Javonti Jackson picked off a pass in the end zone with less than seven minutes left.
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But the Wildcats scored on their next possession on Jay Lester’s 9-yard pass to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce to make it, 34-28.
Dillon got one last chance to win after Chester bobbled the snap on a punt deep in its own territory. The Wildcats got it to the 16 but Lester was sacked by Teddy Murphy to seal the win.
“We just had to come up with a stop, that was all I was thinking about,” said Chester coach Victor Floyd, whose first head coaching job was at C.A. Johnson. “Defense did a great job, giving us the ball in the second half. We didn’t do a lot with it but we did enough to get by.”
Brown finished with 95 yards rushing. Dillon outgained Chester, 319-231 but was hurt by turnovers.
Chester picked off Dillon three times including a 96-yard interception return for a score by Stan Mills in the first quarter to make it 13-0.
“We talked all week about not getting caught in the moment, getting off to a fast start and not watching the jumbotron,” Floyd said.
HOW THEY SCORED
C – Brown 49 run (Glenn kick), 11:46
C – S. Mills 96 interception return (kick failed), 3:46
D – Squire run (rush failed),
C – Brown 5 run (Hill pass from Dunham), 5:26
C – Bagley 20 pass from Dunham (Glenn kick)
D – McDaniel 41 fumble return (run failed), 4:49
C – Brown 1 run (kick failed), 3:01
D – Green 62 pass from Lester (Wright rush), 1:11
D- Huggins-Bruce 9 pass from Lester (Wright rush), 1:59
Rushing: C: Brown 25-95, Dunham 9-29, S. Mills 7-14, Wright 8-21. D: Squire 16-63, Wright 2-33, McKinnon 1-14, Huggins-Bruce 1-12, King 1-4, Lester 14-3
Passing: C: Dunham 4-8-0 89 D: Lester 15-24-3 181, McKinnon 1-2-0 9
Receiving: C: Z. Mills 1-53, Bagley 1-24, Mills 1-13, Brown 1 (-1). D: Wright 7-61, Squire 3-17, Huggins-Bruce 3-32, Green 2-71, McKoy 1-9