Warriors lose close game to Cyclones

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Lee McManus
For Carolina Gateway

The Indian Land Warriors opened region play Friday, Sept. 29, against Class AAA’s fifth-ranked team, the Chester Cyclones.
The Warriors gave Chester all they could handle and more, losing in the final seconds to the talented Cyclones, 35-34.
Chester, 6-1, scored the clincher with 13.3 seconds to take the narrow win.
Neither team could do anything on their first drive. Indian Land intercepted  the Cycs’ John Erby and the Warriors could not take advantage.
On the next play after the Warriors’ punt, Stan Mills broke through the Warriors’ defense and raced down the far sideline 85 yards to make it 7-0.
Indian Land’s ball-control, grind-it-out approach worked well on its next possession.
The Warriors’ drive was all rushing, except for David Loughry’s neat 35-yard fade to A.J. Jefferson to make it 7-6. Jefferson had three catches for 51 yards.
But in the blink of an eye, Chester drove the field to make it 14-6 on the elusive Erby’s scramble from the 13. Erby ran for 104 yards on the night, and threw for 159, hitting on 14-31 passes.
The Warriors’ ball control continued to work in the second quarter.
ILHS mixed in a few more passes, and when Loughry found John Gregory in the back of the end zone from seven yards out, the Warriors pulled within one point, 14-13.
The Warriors took the lead less than 30 seconds before the half when ILHS running back Jacob Carroll sliced through the Cyclones for an 11-yard score to make it 20-14.
The score was set up when the Warriors stopped Chester on a fourth down at the Cyclones’ 46.
Carroll, on the night, ran for 118 yards on 31 carries.
Indian Land looked as if it had seized momentum early in the third period when the Warriors got a huge break.
Brandon Dickerson’s punt bounced off a Cyclone helmet, and the Warriors recovered at the Chester four. Two plays later, Carroll’s three-yard run made it 27-14 for the Warriors.
The Cyclones’ offense again raced down the field, running plays at a breakneck pace.
Erby’s seven-yard run closed the gap to 27-21.
Chester grabbed the lead back at 28-27 with 6:50 left when Mills plunged in from two yards out.
The Cyclones had chances to run the clock and force Indian Land to use timeouts, but they could not as the determined Warriors’ pass defense stiffened.
CHS got a break when Indian Land roughed Erby as he punted, but the Cyclones were forced to punt again three plays later.
Chester’s failure to run the clock gave ILHS a chance, and Indian Land took advantage of it.
Tyree Sistare took a short pass from Loughry and outran the Cycs’ defense 68 yards down the far sideline to give the Warriors the lead again, 34-28, with 1:49 left.
Chester had all three timeouts as the Cycs started their drive at their 29. They made it all the way to IL’s 10, facing fourth and 10.
Erby rolled right and threw back to T.J. Hollis in the right corner of the end zone with 13.3 seconds to give CHS the lead back, 35-34. Hollis had seven catches for 78 yards.
Indian Land had one last chance, but Erby intercepted Loughry’s pass with 3.3 seconds left to seal Chester’s win.
IL coach Horatio Blades praised his team’s effort.
“I told them I was proud of them. This game came down to one or two plays,” Blades said. “They made all their extra points and we didn’t. We simplified things on offense, which helped our players.
“Chester is fast and we simply can’t simulate what John Erby can do. We didn’t go for two after the last touchdown because if we miss then Chester would just need a touchdown without the extra point to win.
“Our corner was beaten to the inside on Chester’s last touchdown,” Blades said. “Our players need the week off to get healthy and recover from this loss. We will use the time to work on fundamentals.”
Indian Land is off this week before resuming region play against Columbia.