You get a limited number of chances against a football powerhouse like Chambers.
If you don’t take advantage of those opportunities, you wind up losing a 4A quarterfinal playoff game 45-14. That’s what happened Friday night to Weddington.
Chambers’ defense gave up a few big plays in the first half but twice held the Warriors scoreless in the red zone. And with a few halftime adjustments, Chambers (13-1) roared away in the second half, moving on to the West Regional finals – a rematch next Friday at Hough, the only team to beat the Cougars this season.
“We did what we always do at halftime,” Chambers coach Glenwood Ferebee said. “We made some adjustments, and we played much better defense in the second half.
“Some people call us a ‘second-half team.’ I think that speaks to the way we are able to adjust to well to what the other team is doing.”
Weddington (12-2) totaled 236 yards of offense in the first half. Quarterback Grady Brosterhous completed 5-of-9 passes for 113 yards.
But from the start of the second half until late in the fourth quarter — before the Warriors drove for a touchdown against the Chambers reserves – the Cougars were held to 19 yards’ total offense. Brosterhous seemed to be scrambling on every play, as the Cougar defense applied heavy pressure.
“We talked at halftime about what we needed to do,” said Chambers defensive end Zairion Jackson-Bass, who had two tackles for losses and pressured Brosterhous several times. “Our goal was to keep pressure on them at all times.”
Weddington probably squandered away its chance of winning by failing to score any points on two incursions inside the Chambers 10 in the first half. The Warriors were stopped on downs once and missed a field goal the second time.
But a series of plays in the third quarter really turned the game around.
Trailing 21-7 at the half, the Warriors came out and moved to the Cougars’ 23 – thanks in no small part to a pair of 15-yard penalties against Chambers. On first down, the snap from center went over Brosterhous’ head. A Weddington player fell on the ball, but for a 13-yard loss. Two plays later, Chambers’ James Pearce sacked Brosterhous for a 10-yard loss.
Weddington had to punt, and on Chambers’ second play from scrimmage, quarterback Anshon Camp threw a short pass to Armon Wright, who evaded tacklers and dashed 77 yards for a touchdown. About two minutes later, Pearce picked off a Brosterhous pass and returned it 47 yards for a score.
By that point, Chambers led 35-7 and was cruising toward the playoff semifinals.
“A lot of people don’t realize that this is basically a young team,” Ferebee said of the Cougars. “They are learning and getting better every week. They are believing in themselves.”
Three who made a difference
James Pearce, Chambers: A senior cornerback, Pearce returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown. He also had a sack, a tackle for loss, and batted down a pass.
Anshon Camp, Chambers: The Cougars’ junior quarterback played played a solid game, completing 12-of-18 passes for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Kyle Parsons, Weddington: In his Warrior finale, Parsons carried the ball 16 times for 118 yards. His big carry was a 73-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Parsons, a Wofford commit, finished the season with just short of 1,800 rushing yards.
▪ One key factor in the game was the absence of Weddington kicker Matthew Moonan, who injured his leg last week against Cuthbertson. Moonan’s kickoffs usually go into the end zone, but Chambers had two long kickoff returns Friday night. And the Warriors had two short punts that gave the Cougars good field position.
▪ At least a half-dozen snaps from center nearly went over Weddington quarterback Grady Brosterhous’ head. One of those bad snaps stalled the Warriors’ opening drive in the third quarter.
▪ Chambers running back Daylan Smothers had another big game, carrying 19 times for 114 yards. He scored twice on short runs.
▪ James Pearce wasn’t the only Cougar with a big game on defense. Zairion Jackson-Bess totaled two tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
▪ Despite the rough night, Brosterhous had a big season. He threw for more than 2,300 yards and 22 touchdowns.
▪ Chambers, the two-time defending 4AA state champion, has a 23-4 regular-season record over the past three seasons. Three of those losses were to Hough, but Chambers avenged the loss to the Huskies last spring, on route to the 4AA championship.
Chambers 7 14 21 3 – 45
Weddington 0 7 0 7 – 14
CH – Daylan Smothers 2 run (Melvin Benitez kick)
CH – Camren Kennedy 21 run (Benitez kick)
W – Kyle Parsons 73 run (Brett Williams kick)
CH – Kevin Concepcion 51 pass from Anshon Camp (Benitez kick)
CH – Armon Wright 77 pass from Camp (Benitez kick)
CH – James Pearce 47 interception return (Benitez kick)
CH – Smothers 4 run (Benitez kick)
CH – FG Benitez 33
W – Landyn Backey 28 pass from Grady Brosterhous (Tim Johnson kick)