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Chester hangs on to beat Indians

  • Johnston City's defensive line prepares for a snap Friday night against Chester.

    Johnston City's defensive line prepares for a snap Friday night against Chester.
    Halle McBride Photo

Contributing Writer
updated: 9/22/2018 1:53 AM

JOHNSTON CITY -- If Johnston City can ever put four quarters of football together, opponents better look out.

In this season's four losses, the Indians got off to a slow start, and had to battle from behind. Friday was no exception.

Ethan Rayburn took the opening kickoff back 96 yards and added the two-point conversion to stake Chester to an 8-0 lead and the Yellow Jackets held on for a 28-20 Black Diamond Conference win.

"That opening kickoff loomed large," said Johnston City first-year head coach Todd Thomas. "We got down early, but the kids kept battling.

"I just want us to be able to put four quarters together," Thomas added.

Chester tacked on two more first-half touchdowns - including a four-yard run by Ethan Bert and a 35-yard pass play from three-year varsity quarterback Nick Meyer to Ian Reith - and it looked like the boys from Randolph County were going to walk away with an easy win at 20-0, but the Tribe had other ideas.

Dalton Frick teamed up with freshman standout Austin Brown for a 10-yard scoring strike on the final play of the first half. After that, a penalty gave Brown a second chance that he turned into a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 20-8 at intermission.

Riding the fifth game in a row with fullback Dylan Fisher going over the 100-yard mark, Johnston City battled back and had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.

The hard-running senior scored on runs of four and one yards sandwiched around a one-yard scamper by Chester's Bert to round out the second-half scoring.

Chester drove to the Johnston City two late in the game, but took a knee on the final four downs to close out the contest.

Fisher finished the night with 166 yards on 28 carries and played most of the game with an injury to his leg.

"They hit hard," said Fisher. "Their quarterback is hard to handle from the defensive side and they were making some hard hits when we had the ball," the senior said.

"Both teams played hard. That fullback (Fisher) Johnston City has is a load," said Chester Coach Billy Belton. "That kick return by Rayburn was the second game in a row that he has run one back. That kind of set the tone."

Thomas was looking ahead after the loss.

"We can't take our foot off the throttle. Our kids battled and kept battling. We just have to put four quarters together," he said.

The loss dropped the Indians to 1-4 going into next week's homecoming game against Carmi-White County.

Chester kept its playoff hopes alive as it upped its record to 3-2 and will host unbeaten Sesser-Valier/Waltonville in a big Black Diamond showdown Friday.