The Chester High School Yellow Jackets stayed in the hunt for a playoff berth last Friday with a narrow win over BDC challenger Johnston City.
Both teams were 2-2 coming into the game, and the parity in the game showed throughout the contest.
What looked like a probable win for Chester with 3:44 remaining in the 4th quarter and the Yellow Jackets ahead 14-12, with possession of the football, suddenly turned sour when CHS quarterback Dylan Kelkhoff attempted a pitch play facing 2-21 and the ball on the Chester 27 yard line. The play was foiled when the pitch was bobbled by the Jackets.
The botched handoff resulted in a fumble and the Indians recovered the ball. The Indians started the final possession of the game on the Chester 29 yard line with 3:20 to play. In the final minutes of the game Johnston City worked the ball to the Chester 10-yard line.
With just 24 seconds remaining and facing a 3-and-4 situation, the Indians looked as if they might be able to spoil the Yellow Jackets' evening. A fourth down would likely have brought a field goal and Johnston City would win by one point, 15-14. A touchdown would have given the Indians a nice 18-14 win.
W.O. Smith Field was tense with anticipation as everyone on both sides of the field awaited for what would likely be the final play of the game.
Indian quarterback, Austin Brown called for the ball and the snap was high, causing a fumble and a wild dash for the ball which sent Brown scampering behind his back for the loose ball. In the process, the clock ran out and Johnston City's opportunity for a great win was spoiled.
Chester fans quickly realized that the game was over and cheered wildly for the hard-fought win by default. With the win, Chester improved to 3-2 in the Black Diamond Conference and 3-2 overall. Johnston City fell to 2-3 in the BDC and 2-3 overall.
The game was a 6-6 tie after one quarter of play. Chester won the coin toss and elected to receive to start the game. It took the Jackets less than two minutes to score after the Jackets recovered the Indian's onside kick at the Johnston City 34 yard line.
Just four plays later, Chester's Ethen Bert scored from the 5-yard line giving the Jackets a quick 6-0 lead. Dylan Kelkhoff's two-point conversion attempt failed and with 10:01 remaining in the quarter, CHS led, 6-0.
The Jacket defense was tough on JC's first possession, and held the Indians to one yard rushing. Facing 4-and-9, the Indians punted. Chester started its second possession with quarterback Dylan Kelkhoff running the ball on a quarterback keeper three times in a row for advances of 2, 6, and 6 yards for a first down. All looked positive for the Jackets as they got a first down and the ball on their 29 Yard line.
Then the Jackets were charged with a holding penalty, a false start penalty and a delay-of-game penalty. To top off the bad luck, there was a bad snap on the next play which caused a loss of 11 yards. CHS had to punt with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Chester's defense went to work again and held the Indians to just four yards on three plays. Facing a 4-and-6 situation Johnston City decided to try a quarterback sneak and JC's Austin Brown was quickly stopped by the Chester defense. The Indians turned the ball over on downs to the Yellow Jackets.
With just 1:28 remaining in the first quarter, Dylan Kelkhoff attempted a pass on the first play from scrimmage. Johnston City's Dalton Frick intercepted the Chester pass and ran it 37 yards for a touchdown with just 57 seconds to play. Once again, the Jacket defense stepped up and blocked the extra point kick and the score was tied, 6-6.
In the final 50 seconds Chester failed to get any offense going and got called for a block in the back penalty to end the first quarter. The score remained tied, 6-6 after one period of battle.
Chester had the ball to start the second quarter and fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage. Johnston City took over with 11:53 to play and failed to move the ball against the Yellow Jacket defense. The Indians turned the ball over on downs at the 10:40 mark.
Johnston City then held the Jackets to three and out and CHS had to punt with 8:36 to play. The Jackets defense then held the Indians who faced 4-and 19, so Johnston City punted. The Indian defense returned the favor and held Chester to 4-and-out and Chester turned the ball over on downs with 2:50 remaining in the half. On the first play from Scrimmage the rough-and tough Yellow Jacket defense forced an Indian fumble and Chester's Issac Jany recovered the fumble and took it into the Johnston City end zone for Chester's second touchdown of the night. Aiden Jany ran for the two point conversion and was successful. With 2:24 left in the half, Chester led, 14-6.
In the final 1:46 Chester's Orange Crush defense held the Indians steadfast and the Jackets took a nice 14-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Neither team could muster up any major offense in the third quarter. Chester kicked off to Johnston City to start the second half. The Chester defense stood strong again to stop the Indians in four plays and forced a punt at the 09:30 mark.
The Jackets stalled at the 48 yard line at the 5:25 mark and had to punt giving the ball back to Johnston City. After getting a first-and-ten on a great pass from Austin Brown to Jordan Wininger to start the possession, the Indians fumbled on their next play and Chester's Isaac Jany recovered the ball with 4:47 to play in the third quarter.
Chester seemed to have a great movement going during the ensuing three minutes and got the ball to the Johnston City 37 yard line on runs by Ethan Bert and Aiden Jany. Facing a 4-and-6 situation Chester's Dylan Kelkhoff attempted a pass which was intercepted by the Indian's Dalton Frick with just 24 seconds remaining in the third. The Jackets held the Indians the next two plays to close the quarter with CHS and JC locked at, 14-6.
Johnston City had the ball to start the 4th quarter. Kegan Peek ran the ball off the first play and was held for no yardage. On the second play, quarterback Austin Brown ran a keeper and was thrown for a three-yard loss by Chester's Ian Reith and Jacob Miller.
Facing another huge fourth down situation, instead of punting, the Indians' Austin Brown threw a 28 yard pass to Caide Sloan who scored a touchdown for six points at the 10:43 mark. Johnston City attempted a two-point conversion which was defended by the Yellow Jackets. The Indians pulled within two points, 14-12.
With 10:28 remaining in the game Chester had the ball and managed the clock well moving from their own 37 yard line all the way down to the Johnston City 27 yard line with 3:44 left to play. Facing a 2-and-21 situation CHS attempted a pitch which was fumbled and recovered by the Indians with 3:20 remaining.
Johnston City moved the ball during the final three minutes and appeared as if they were going to close the final 24 seconds with a score, however, a poor snap created a fumbled ball and quarterback Austin Brown had to chase it down as time expired. Chester won by two points, 14-12.