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Dillon returns to top of AAA with 55-27 win over Chapman

ColumbiaDillon football is back on top. A year after losing its bid to win a fourth consecutive state championship in a championship game loss to Chapman, the Dillon Wildcats exacted some revenge and started another streak.

Dillon exploded with four touchdowns in the third quarter, breaking a 21-21 tie, and defeated Chapman, 55-27, to claim the 2017 Class AAA state championship at Williams-Brice Stadium on December 2nd.

The Wildcats finish the season with a 15-0 record in winning their seventh state championship since 2008. Dillon played in their sixth consecutive title game. Head coach Jackie Hayes started only five seniors in the title game and expressed surprise at his team’s perfect season.

I’m very happy for my coaches and players cause if you had told me at the start of the year we’d be here, I would have told you it wasn’t going to happen,” Hayes said. “Very happy for our coaches and our players. They did a great job all year and we just kept getting better each week.”

Dillon finished with 469 total yards, led by quarterback Jay Lester, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Lester added 64 yards on the ground, complementing the efforts of Zareon Hayes (82 yards, 2 TD) and Jalen Williams (80 yards). The Wildcats tallied 229 yards on the ground. Ahmari Huggins caught four passes for 140 yards and a score.

Chapman saw its perfect season end in defeat, finishing 14-1. The Panthers played the second half without all-state quarterback and Mr. Football finalist Colton Bailey. Bailey passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns in the first half but an injured shoulder forced him to the sideline for the decisive second-half.

“We just knew that he couldn’t throw any more,” Chapman head coach Mark Hodge said. “He did all he could in the first half. He’s such a competitor and fighter. He tried to give it all he could but it wasn’t going to happen.”

Dillon jumped out to a 21-0 lead with nine minutes left in the first half, starting with Ty’Quan Porter’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Wildcats added a score with 37 seconds left in the first on a Lester to Corrian Wright 34-yard pass, upping the lead to 13-0.

Dillon’s defense posted a fourth down stop at their own one-yard line and Lester hit Huggins on a 99-yard pass on the next play for a 21-0 advantage.

Chapman’s offense finished the half with three touchdowns in the final 7:26. Bailey hit Richard Tucker with a 16-yard pass to cap a 75-yard drive for the Panthers’ first score. Late in the half, Bailey and Patrick Phongsat combined on a 30-yard score to cut the lead to 21-14. Tucker finished with six catches for 104 yards while Phongsat added nine catches for 126 yards and two scores.

After forcing a Dillon punt, Bailey directed a three-play, 33-yard drive in 33 seconds, capped by a 20-yard pass to Tucker with one second left in the second quarter.

Bailey finished the half with 235 passing yards and Chapman out-gained Dillon, 320-220. Chapman also ran 50 plays in the first half compared to Dillon’s 24 plays.

“That was a remarkable half of football, especially the second quarter,” Hodge said. “But, it was their night.”

While Bailey’s absence certainly helped Dillon’s defense, Hayes said his team came out with a better attitude in the third quarter.

“We came out fired up in the third quarter and got a couple of stops,” Hayes said. “When their quarterback went out, we just changed the way we were thinking a little bit and tried to bring more pressure to the quarterback. Chapman is a good football team and we feel very fortunate to win.”

The third quarter was an avalanche of Dillon defense and offense. In addition to Porter’s two scores, Hayes added runs of 15 and 23 yards and the Wildcats led, 48-21, with 11:36 left in the game.

Porter added a 39-yard fumble return and a two-yard run in the decisive third quarter.

“It’s all a blessing,” Porter said. “We brought it back, like we said we would. Our defense came to play all year. We went into the second-half knowing we had time to play and we started balling.”

Chapman snapped the Dillon scoring streak with a touchdown in the fourth as backup quarterback Mikele Colasurdo tossed a four-yard pass to Phongsat with 9:27 remaining in the game. Colasurdo threw for 94 yards in the second-half and was intercepted twice.

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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