Griffins shut out by Chester in rivalry game

CHESTER – Fairfield Central was shut out on the road in Chester last Friday 31-0, marking the Cyclones’ largest margin of victory in the series and the first shutout of the longtime rival.

Fairfield Central went three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, and was flagged for the first of several unsportsmanlike penalties. The Griffins ended up punting out of the end zone, which gave Chester excellent starting field position at the Griffin 31.

The Cyclones reached into the bag of tricks early, running a flea flicker on the first play. Quarterback Zan Dunham lofted a perfect fade throw to Reggie Heath, who out-jumped a defender for an excellent catch, a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The Griffins had to punt again and the Cyclones promptly drove from their own 37 to the Fairfield Central 10 with a 10-play drive that effectively mixed the run and pass. Chester missed out on a chance to add to the lead with a lost fumble, one of the few miscues the team had on the night. The score stayed at 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

After managing just 41 yards in the first quarter, giving up two sacks and drawing a pair of 15-yard penalties in the opening frame, Fairfield Central tried to get something going with a double pass, but the Chester defense stayed at home and Dunham recorded a big interception. After another 15-yard penalty on the Griffins at the conclusion of that play, the Cyclones set up shop at the opponents’ 34. They converted a third-and-long with Dunham ripping a 10-yard throw into traffic to tight end Kyan Kennedy. The quarterback finished the drive himself one play later, scoring on a two-yard keeper for a 14-0 score.

Fairfield Central finally seemed to have some offensive momentum going on its next drive, with quarterback Stephon Gadsden hitting a big 16-yard completion on third-and-long and gaining some yards with his legs. Facing another third-and-long near midfield, however, Chester’s Rathael Pendergrass jumped on an out route, got the interception and took it 56 yards for a touchdown. Chester led 21-0 at halftime.

The Griffins tried an onside kick to start the third, but Sherard Feaster scooped the ball up cleanly on one bounce, evaded one tackler, then ran 68 yards untouched to the end zone to make it a 28-0 ballgame.

Chester’s Henry Glenn appeared to nail a 28-yard field goal later in the third, but it was ruled to be wide right. He did boot a 35-yarder later in the contest. Fairfield Central only had four possessions in the second half, all of which ended in punts.

The game got chippy as things went along and that manifested itself late. Chester was driving for what looked to be another score, when Feaster was run out of bounds after a 28-yard run by three Griffins defenders, who drew multiple flags for taking the Chester runner down on the sidelines and not getting off him once down. A few Chester players intervened, which not only led to four total ejections and multiple flags but the final 1:15 of the contest was not actually played, with the clock simply being allowed to run out. Cyclones Coach Victor Floyd said the officials struggled to keep the game under control at times and noted emotions always run high in a rivalry game like Chester v Fairfield Central.

Fairfield Central (4-3, 1-2 Region 4-3A) play hosts to Mid-Carolina (1-3, 0-2) Friday. Chester (4-3, 2-1) is at Hickory, N.C.

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