Trojans outlast East Burke, 27-8
Chase head football coach Daniel Bailey summed up his team's issues perfectly, “It wasn't pretty in the first half but it hasn't been pretty in the first half in a while.”
It's a good thing for the Chase Trojans that football has a two halves because they have developed a reputation of being a second half team and Friday night was no exception. The Trojans struggled out of the gate with sloppy play and multiple turnovers before finding their stride in the second half and downing the East Burke Cavaliers 27-8.
“We've got to come out and play football in the first half. You rely on doing it in the second half too much in the playoffs and you find yourself sitting at home,” Bailey said after the win.
The rain had long since moved out but the ball still seemed to be hard to hold onto as turnovers plagued both teams early. East Burke's Elijah Reese moved the offense deep into Chase territory on their opening possession utilizing a crisp short passing game. However, the drive ended abruptly when Jason Champion stripped the ball and Tylin Littlejohn recovered the fumble on the Chase 22-yard line.
“Well that was our game plan," Bailey said of his pass defense. "We didn't want to let them behind us because we felt that if we could force them to through the ball short we could make the tackle.”
The good fortune was not a sign of things to come in the first half as the next three turnovers all belonged to the Trojans (6-4, SMAC 3-4). The most costly one being an interception by East Burke's Nathan Poteat on a poorly thrown pass into the flats by Tyrell Boykins setting up East Burke at the Chase 20-yard line.
Reese took quick advantage of the Chase mistake hitting his wide receiver Chuck Ritchie behind the coverage for an easy touchdown on the next play. East Burke (1-9, SMAC 0-7) converted a two-point attempt as holder Ryan Newell pulled up and tossed the ball out into the flat for Noah Gilbert giving East Burke an 8-0 lead.
The teams then exchanged a couple of possessions before East Burke penned the Trojans on the 6-yard line with a well placed punt with just over four minutes in the half.
For the first time in the game the Trojans seemed to find their poise offensively. Boykins escaped the shadow of his end zone keeping the ball on the read option and racing out to the 35-yard line.
Two plays later, Boykins executed the fake to his fullback perfectly before lofting a pass over the frozen linebackers to a streaking Dace Rollins who raced 53 yards to the end zone with 1:29 left in the half. Boykins powered his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion sending the teams into halftime tied 8-8.
The Trojans carried the momentum into the second quarter as Trey Whiteside took the opening kickoff to the 48-yard line of East Burke. Two plays later, Stephan Phillips rumbled around the left end for a 21 -yard touchdown giving the Trojans their first lead of the night, 15-8.
The tide continued to swell against East Burke as the Trojans recorded sacks on two consecutive plays forcing them into a punting situation. East Burke muffed the punt attempt and Chase's Jalen Jackson recovered the ball on the 39-yard line. D'Andre Kelly's hard running moved the ball down to the 5-yard line before Tylin Littlejohn punched it in for the score. The extra point attempt was no good leaving the score at 21-8 with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
East Burke looked like they might find their rhythm again putting together a couple of first downs but Malik Young's interception on the last play of the third quarter slammed the door on a promising drive. It was the last serious threat of the night for East Burke as the Trojans continued to harass and pound the East Burke offense throughout the remainder of the second half forcing four turnovers and notching five sacks for the game.
Jalen Jackson led the impressive defensive effort with one sack and seven tackles on the night.
The Trojan's Malik Young capped the nights scoring with a 5-yard dash around the left side to push the lead to 27-8. The drive was highlighted by the hard running of D'Andre Kelly as he continued to spark the Trojan offense finishing the night with eight carries for 58 yards.
Chase's Young, Littlejohn, and Stephans each posted one rushing touchdown. However, it was the second half reads of Boykins that set up the offensive success.
“We weren't making the right reads at first,” Bailey said. “If you are stopping our fullback then you're giving us the quarterback or the pitch because one man isn't going to stop our fullback. Making the right reads makes the difference.”
Boykins added 33 yards of his own on 16 carries and passed for one touchdown on the night.
The Chase Trojans travel across town to face the East Cavaliers next Friday night for their annual showdown.