Offensive Inconsistency plays large role in grounding Eagles
Chapin, SC (James Bowers) - Emotions were high at Cecil Woolbright Field Friday as Chapin’s seniors saw the end of their high school football careers following the Eagles’ 28-14 loss to Crestwood of Sumter in the first round of the AAAA playoffs. The game is the final contest for Chapin as a class AAAA program, as all indications are that CHS will make the jump to 5A next year in a region with area foes such as Irmo, Dutch Fork, and Lexington among others.
Chapin’s biggest flaw in its final game was an inability to find a rhythm offensively. QB LaRob Gordon regularly failed to connect with his receivers, and was eventually benched in the second half in favor of sophomore Roger Pedroni, who fared no better. Crestwood showed its ability to get penetration defensively, sacking Gordon and Pedroni several times.
There were some bright spots for the Chapin offense. The game began with a Chapin series that ended in a punt, only for Crestwood’s returner to drop the football. The Eagles scooped it up to take over at the Knight 20. Seconds later, LaRob Gordon found his brother Xzavion for a touchdown pass, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead.Crestwood’s next series resulted in another turnover. Chapin did not capitalize and punted the football. After forcing Crestwood to do the same, Chapin went on its only solid drive of the night. This ended in another Gordon-to-Gordon touchdown to extend the Eagle lead to 14-0.
Crestwood answered when they got the football, with a lengthy touchdown connection from quarterback Anthony Bradley to receiver Joshua Simon, making it a 14-7 ballgame with 4:33 left in the first quarter. The two offenses sputtered for the rest of the first half, until Crestwood took the football with just over a minute left. Bradley took the team up the field quickly and capped the drive with his own 2 yard TD run. The extra point sailed wide, and the board showed 14-13 Chapin at the half.
Crestwood got the football first in the second half, and did little with it. Chapin had a nifty drive end in a missed field goal. Other highlights of the third quarter include several dropped passes from Crestwood receivers, and a fake punt by Crestwood that also resulted in a turnover on downs. The Knights were able to muster something offensively near the end of the third, and Bradley picked up another touchdown on a one yard keeper. After a successful two-point conversion, it was 21-14 Crestwood.The fourth quarter saw a Chapin turnover set up a final Crestwood score, to make it a 28-14 decision. The loss ends Chapin’s 2017 season and gives them a final record of 7-4 on the year.
Chapin’s offense was led by WR Xzavion Gordon, who had 8 grabs for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon also broke the Eagles’ single-season receiving record in the contest. The wideout was recognized for his selection to play in the 2017 Touchstone Energy North-South All-Star game during halftime. While running backs Taison Thomas and Mark Shealy had a handful of effective rushes, the Eagles’ run game only picked up a little over 53 yards. QB LaRob Gordon was 10/23 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Roger Pedroni, who played much of the second half in Gordon’s place, threw 11 passes but only completed 2.
Defensively, LB James Wells and S Taylor Lehmann made several key plays for the Eagles. Crestwood’s Anthony Bradley had an exceptional game, completing 14 of his 21 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Bradley added another two touchdowns with his rushing. Receiver Joshua Simon had 8 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Postgame at Cecil Woolbright Field was a somber affair.. Senior players tearfully embraced and shared well wishes with their teammates and coaches as a large crowd of families looked on. Despite their final game ending in defeat, the 2017 Eagles can still take pride in their 5-AAAA Region Co-Championship, and are an example of the positive momentum swing seen by the program since head coach Justin Gentry took over in 2010. Next year, the Eagles will be part of Class 5A, and district rivals Irmo and Dutch Fork will become conference foes alongside the likes of Lexington, River Bluff, and White Knoll.
With their victory, Crestwood gets to continue its bid for a state title. The Knights travel to North Myrtle Beach High School on November 10 for a 2nd Round playoff game against the Chiefs.