The Chester Yellow Jacket defense stubbornly held Auburn to just six points midway through the third quarter, but in the end the older, more experienced Trojans were too much for the young Chester squad.
The Trojans, playing 15 seniors and 11 juniors, came into W.O. Smith Field on Saturday and ended a quality season for the Yellow Jackets with a 19-0 victory.
With the win, the Trojans earned a home second round game this Saturday against Maroa-Forsythe, who beat Sesser-Valier 41-0 last weekend.
Chester Head Coach Billy Belton acknowledged that Auburn is a bigger and stronger team, and gave credit where it was due.
"Auburn was a great defensive team (who has) been consistent all year," Belton said. "They have a huge front four and they know how to win games.
"Auburn's Colin Dubois is the best running back we have faced all year," he added.
The Trojans also travel well, and brought a grandstand full of fans to Chester on Saturday. Those fans see good football every week, as the Trojans play in the tough Sangamo Football Conference.
Still, giving up only 19 points is no blowout.
"I am very proud of our defense," Belton said. "Those boys played hard the entire game and held Auburn to just six points until the last part of the third quarter."
CHS won the toss and chose to receive, but couldn't move the ball and punted. The Trojans started their first series on their own 36 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Colin Dubois fumbled, but the Jackets couldn't capitalize and Auburn recovered it at the 49-yard line.
After a successful pass from Tim Stewart to Cole Donaldson the Trojans were at the Chester 20-yard line. Donaldson ran for six to the 14, Dubois then ran to the 7. Quarterback Tim Stewart scored at the 7:33 mark on a quarterback keeper and Auburn led, 6-0. Chester's Ian Reith blocked the extra-point kick to hold the Trojans to six points.
A confident Yellow Jacket offense took the kickoff and controlled the ball for the remainder of the first quarter. Jordan Merideth ran for a first down. QB Dylan Kelkhoff threw to Ethan Bert who made a great catch for another first down. Ethan Bert ran for a third first down and the Jackets were cruising at the 50-yard line with 4:31 to play in the quarter.
The drive stalled, as the Trojans rushed and stopped Kelkhoff for three successive downs, resulting in a one-yard run and two failed passes.
Facing 4 and 9 at the 47 yard line, everyone expected Chester to punt, but Kelkhoff fooled everyone and completed a 26-yard pass to Jordan Merideth whose terrific catch gave the Jackets first-and-10 at the Auburn 21 yard line.
Just when it looked as if Chester would tie the game or take the lead, the train derailed. A false start penalty was followed by a delay-of-game penalty. Facing 1st and 20, Kelkhoff got 10 yards back on a run, but subsequently he was sacked. An incomplete pass on the next play gave the ball on downs and the quarter ended.
The entire second quarter was a 0-0 battle. The teams traded punts and Chester blocked an Auburn field goal attempt at Chester's 14-yard line.
CHS started the next series at their own 14 but couldn't get rolling and had to punt.
With 4:01 left in the half, Chester missed its second chance to change the course of the game. Auburn was first-and-10 from their own 44, and QB Tim Stewart threw a pass to the right side. Chester defender Aiden Jany was right there and for an instant had the ball in his grasp, with nothing but daylight between him and the end zone. But the ball slipped out of his hands.
For the next 2:12 the Jacket defense stood tall yet again and held the Trojans from scoring despite two Auburn first-and-10s in 10 seconds. A holding call against Auburn helped to stall the drive and a monster sack by Chester's Isaac Jany -- followed by Isaac Jany breaking up a pass play -- sealed Auburn's doom on this drive.
Moreover, on Auburn's next play Chester forced a fumble and recovered the ball with 1:38 remaining in the half. The Jacket offense stalled, and Auburn took a slim 6-0 lead into the locker room.
Auburn opened the second half with a meltdown -- 40 yards worth of penalties for encroachment, holding and a personal foul. They punted.
Chester then had a meltdown of its own -- a quarterback loss of two yards, three failed pass attempts and a 10-yard penalty for holding. The Jackets punted at the 6:14 mark.
Finally, Auburn got its offense working. Two completed passes by Stewart got the Trojans a first down, after which Dubois ran for another first down and then struck for a touchdown at the 2:50 mark on a 3-yard run. The two-point conversion was foiled by CHS. Auburn now led 12-0 to end the third.
Chester's first series was shut down and the Jackets turned the ball over on downs.
With 11:50 to play, the Jackets were penalized for pass interference, giving Auburn the ball on the Chester 38-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage Dubois struck for his second touchdown of the half on a 38-yard run. The extra point kick was good and Auburn led, 19-0 with 11:31 remaining in the game.
Chester went three and out. On Auburn's first down, Yellow Jacket senior Brendan Murphy sacked Auburn QB Tim Stewart for a 3-yard loss. On the next play, Trojan running back Cole Donaldson was called for a personal foul and a 15-yard penalty. The Jackets defense held the Trojans facing a 4-and-20 and Auburn punted.
On Chester's final four plays, quarterback Dylan Kelkhoff was stopped for no yardage. On the second play he was sacked and fumbled the ball but recovered it with 6:27 to play. On the third he threw an incomplete pass, and on the fourth down he was sacked again to end the series.
Auburn moved the ball 27 yards in the final 5:03 but took a knee to allow time to run out to end the game.
After the game, Coach Belton said, "I can't say enough about my seniors. They only won one game as freshmen and one game as sophomores. To close their careers they end up 7-3 as varsity players. Hats off to these guys.
Belton added there were times this season when the Jackets had five sophomores on the field at once.
"Our juniors have a lot of talent," he added. "These will be exciting times the next few years. I look forward to seeing these young guys mature and execute in years to come."
Game time: 1 hour, 57 minutes.
First downs: Auburn had 16 (12 rushing, 3 passing, 1 on a penalty); Chester had 6 (4 rushing, 1 passing, 1 on a penalty).
Rushing: Trojans had a net 220 yards; Chester had a net 69 yards.
Passing: Auburn completed 5 of 8 passes for 82 yards; Chester completed 4 of 9 for 45 yards.
Plays: Trojans ran 47 plays; CHS ran 41.
Net offense: Auburn, 303 yards; Chester, 114 yards.
Fumbles: Auburn, 2, both recovered by Auburn. Chester, 1, recovered by Chester.
Punts: Auburn, 4 punts for 104 yards (avg. was 26 yards per punt). Chester, 5 punts for 169 yards (avg. was 33.8 yards per punt).
Penalties: Trojans, 7 times for 70 yards. Jackets, 7 times for 54 yards.
Possession time: Chester, 24:31; Auburn, 23:29.
Tackles: Auburn's Shane Trimingham led the Trojans in solo tackles with four, two of which were sacks. Chester's Ethan Bert led the Yellow Jackets in solo tackles with five.
Receiving: Chester's Jordan Merideth caught two passes for 26 yards; Ethan Bert caught one pass for 11 yards; Ian Reith caught one pass for eight yards. Auburn's Colin Dubois also led his team in receptions with three catches for 70 yards.