CHESTER — Eldorado jumped out to a big halftime lead and had to hold on to beat a stubborn Chester team, 50-36, and win a share of back-to-back Black Diamond Conference titles on the Yellow Jackets’ Senior Night at W.O. Smith Field on Friday.
"It was a real credit to Chester because they had a chance to fold it up in the first half when we had a big lead," said Eldorado coach Brandon Hampton. "But we rallied the troops and that will help us in the playoffs because we were challenged. I feel our football team made them use up a lot of clock in the second half by not giving up the big play."
Eldorado (8-1, 8-1) nailed down a home playoff game next week. Chester dropped to 4-5 overall and in the conference.
The Eagles finished with 405 yards rushing. Payton Price led the way with 181 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns, with Tre Vessel adding 132 on 20 carries and two touchdowns and Jacob Traxler 94 yards on seven carries and one touchdown run and another on an interception return.
"It was big credit to our offensive line," Price said. "When Tre goes inside, a lot it opens up the outside and makes it easy for me to do my job."
The Eagles got off with a bang 48 seconds into the game, when on their second play, Payton Price ran 62 yards up the middle untouched to score. Traxler ran the two-point conversion in to give Eldorado an 8-0 lead.
After forcing the Yellow Jackets to a three-and-out, Eldorado took over on its own 18 and drove the length of the field on six plays, including 28-yard run by Price on a third-and-11 from its own 17. Facing a second-and-nine at the Eldorado 46, Traxler took a pitch and raced around right end for the score. This time the two-point pass was intercepted leaving the Eagles with a 14-0 lead with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Chester regrouped and drove 65 yards on just five plays to get on the board. During the drive quarterback Nick Meyer broke off runs of 12 and nine yards with Jacob Golding finishing the drive with a 43-yard run up the middle. Meyer passed to Savion Smith for the two-points and the Yellow Jackets trailed 14-8 with 4:19 still remaining in the first quarter. Golding finished with 137 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The second quarter was all Eldorado. The Eagles began a drive on their own 49 with 1:45 remaining in the first quarter and marched down the field in big chunks, with Price running in the final 26. Traxler ran in the two-pointer and the Eagles led 22-8, 50 seconds into the second quarter.
Just before the half, Eldorado stopped Chester on a fourth-and-one at the Yellow Jacket 29. Eight plays later, Tre Vessel scored from the five. The two-point conversion was stopped.
Chester started its next drive at its own 44 after a 24-yard kickoff return by Smith, but the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt. The Eagles went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive with Price scoring from the nine with 11 seconds remaining. Traxler ran the two-point conversion in to give Eldorado a 36-8 lead at the half.
Chester came out of the intermission with a different game plan and it worked. After opening the second half with a 75-yard drive starting with a 60 yard run by Golding. Four plays later Meyer scored from the three and the turnaround had begun.
"We were fighting for our playoff life, so we took every second we had at halftime so we could comeback in the second half," said Chester coach Jeremy Blechle. "We made some adjustments on defense moving some guys around and giving the quarterback some new looks when he came to the life and it helped."
The Yellow Jacket held the Eagle offense to just 5 plays on Eldorado’s next possession, and took over at their own 32 on downs with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Chester then took the rest of the third quarter and 1:04 of the fourth on a 68-yard, 20-play drive to score again on a one-yard draw by Meyer. The two-point run failed, leaving the Yellow Jackets down by 14 with 10:56 remaining.
The Chester defense held the Eagles again to six plays and a punt. Chester drove again, going 85 yards on six plays, with Joe Stahlheber catching a 37-yard pass from Meyer. Vessel ran in the two-pointer, leaving Chester down by six with 5:04 remaining.
Eldorado recovered the onside kick at the Chester 46 and took eight plays and 3:15 off the clock with Vessel scoring from the four. Traxler sealed the win by picking off Meyer at the 20 and running it in the end zone.
"It was just the o-line getting it done up front and they relied on me to get it done behind him," Vessel said.