#ChesneeStrong Eagles defeat Landrum
On a Monday night at a high school football game, a community and student body gathered to heal after an unspeakable tragedy. Prior to kickoff, the student body presidents and team captains from Landrum High School and Chesnee High School came together at midfield to present a banner displaying #ChesneeStrong, a powerful showing of unity between the two high school rivals.
Between the lines the Chesnee Eagles started fast against the Landrum Cardinals and never let up, pounding the rock with a stable of rotating running backs and strong defensive play on the line of scrimmage to win by a final score of 40-21.
“We talk about it every day, we’re all one family,” Chesnee Head Coach Clay Lewis said. “The community, Chesnee High School, the football team, we got to be one heartbeat…the kids played hard.”
The biggest threat on the field coming into tonight was Landrum’s dynamic running back Colton Link. Link has single-handedly taken over football games for the Cardinals, yet struggled to establish a flow of the game outside of one massive touchdown run. It would’ve been a very tall task to keep Link’s impact completely off the scoreboard, as he scored an 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter. But massive credit is owed to the Chesnee defense who was in the Landrum backfield all night, didn’t let one missed tackle turn into two or three, and dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
“We did a really good job of playing team defense and pursuing the ball,” Lewis said. “Our goal coming in was to not give [Link] the home runs…our kids did a great job staying where they needed to be.”
The Eagles defense allowed only a few explosive plays, and forced multiple turnovers to prevent the Cardinals from gaining offensive momentum. Chesnee got an interception from defensive lineman Aiden Allen, a fumble recovery on a kickoff in the second half, and stopped Landrum on multiple fourth downs. Vitally, the Eagles stifled the Cardinals offense on multiple occasions in the red zone, only allowing one touchdown inside the 20 yard line all night. Outside of the 80 yard score, Landrum only ran for another 58 yards on 23 carries.
Chesnee was able to get the offense going early, finding the end zone three times in the opening quarter. Quarterback Kjay Proctor connected with wide receiver Kaylob Blanton in the end zone on the first drive of the contest to establish the pace. Later in the period, the Eagles got some help from the umpire who unintentionally collided with a Cardinal defender, freeing up wide receiver Kyle Martin to go 75 yards for a touchdown. After conceding a pick-six to Landrum’s AJ Lindsey, Chesnee pulled further ahead before the end of the period with Proctor running it 12 yards for another Eagles score.
Proctor finished with five total touchdowns, four through the air and one on the ground along with 287 total yards. Chesnee’s running back rotation proved to be key, as the trio of Blanton, Adonis Burgess, and Austin Bigford chopped away at the Landrum front throughout the night. Lewis was able to shuffle through his options to keep the runner’s legs fresh and effective. Blanton collected three touchdowns receiving, and Kyle Martin scored on the ground and through the air in the game for the Eagles offense. Blanton also was a passing threat, finishing with four catches for 119 yards and three scores.
Landrum was led on the night by Lindsey’s interception return for a touchdown, along with Link’s 80 yard sprint to the end zone in the second quarter. The Cardinals only other score would be in garbage time, as backup quarterback Ty Foster found starting quarterback Titus Poore late in the fourth quarter for a five-yard score.
Chesnee moves to 1-0 in region play and has a quick turnaround to its next game, traveling to Abbeville on Friday. Lewis said postgame that Abbeville offered to move the game to accommodate the Eagles’ situation, however Chesnee moved forward with playing again in just four days. Landrum falls to 0-1 in Region 1 – 2A and travels to Ninety-Six on Friday as well.