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Cyclones edge Warriors, 12-9

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By Lee McManus

CHESTER – Last year, the Indian Land Warriors had a lead against the Chester Cyclones only to lose by one point in the final seconds.
The game this season against third-ranked Chester High School might not have been as dramatic, but missed opportunities Friday night cost Indian Land High School in a tough 12-9 loss at CHS.
Two big fourth downs proved to be the difference in the Warriors’ loss in its first Region IV-AAA game.
The contest started out looking as if there would be far more offensive play, as both teams scored on their first drives.
Indian Land’s drive was aided by the first of 14 flags for 141 penalty yards for Chester, a personal foul that gave the Warriors a first down.
The Warriors drive stalled, forcing a 28-yard Brandon Dickerson field goal, making it 3-0 ILHS.
It took two plays for Chester to take the lead, when Pha’Leak Brown scampered in from five yards to make it 6-3.
His run followed a 60-yard run by Zan Dunham, who had a huge night running. The Cyclones ace freshman quarterback had 18 carries for 163 running yards on the night.
Chester had trouble running up the middle against Indian Land’s eight-man front, so the Cyclones used misdirection to take a 12-3 lead.
Zion Mills took the end around and raced 22 yards for the score.
Indian Land missed on its best chance to score in the second quarter.
The Warriors had a fourth-and-one just inside Chester’s 30. A game delay set the Warriors back five yards. Brandon Britton’s scramble came up a yard short, and Indian Land turned the ball over on downs at the key point.
The Warriors then missed out on a golden opportunity to score at the start of the third quarter.
Indian Land recovered a Chester fumble at the Cyclones 25. Facing fourth-and-one at Chester’s three, the Warriors decided to try a field goal, but missed the 20-yarder, which proved to be huge in the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones penalties proved problematic once again.
Three times Chester gave up first downs to the Warriors on the drive. IL’s Dwight Cherry, with some help, pushed himself into the end zone from the one, to make it 12-9. The hard-charging Cherry ran for 93 yards in 22 carries.
ILHS made it across the 50 one more time, but the Warriors failed on fourth-and-13. The Cyclone defense proved to be stingy, holding Indian Land to 139 net yards, and sacking Britton and Greyson Barber five times.
ILHS coach Horatio Blades lamented the Warriors’ missed chances.
“It would have been a one-possesion game, if we had made the field goal,” he said. “I did it because I believe in our defense.
“They held Chester to 12 points tonight,” Blades said. “It’s a game of inches. We had our opportunities to win the game. If we make the extra point, it’s 12-10, and then if we make the field goal, we win the game.
“We just didn’t do what was needed to do to the win the game,” Blades said. “Their quarterback is big and fast, and he can make all the runs. That young man has God-given gifts you just can’t teach.
“It was a tough loss to a quality team, but we were right there, so close,” he said.
Blades said ILHS will continue to work.
“We are going to work on fundamentals during the bye week, but also let the players have a break to focus on academics, and just be themselves.”

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ILHS senior linebacker Robby Csuhta led the Warriors with 17 total tackles, including 13 solo tackles and a tackle for loss. Alex Murphy compiled 10 total tackles, seven solo hits. Dorian Williams posted six total tackles, five solo hits, a fumble recovery and batted down a pass. Tajh Knight had six total tackles, five solo stops, with a tackle for loss. Caden Bloxham notched five total tackles, three solo tackles, a tackle for loss, broke up a pass and forced a fumble. A.J Jefferson registered three solo tackles and broke up a pass. Cornelius Barber had four total tackles, two solo tackles. Gabe Faulkner had two total tackles and a tackle for loss. Nick Demetrio had a tackle, tackle for loss and a sack.
Indian Land, 2-5, 0-1, hosts Keenan of Columbia on Oct. 12. Keenan, 1-5, dropped a 61-25 Region IV-AAA loss to Fairfield Central of Winnsboro on Friday night.
AJ Jefferson aided the Warriors with two catches for 16 yards in the game.