Big defensive plays push Lexington past Chapin

Posted 9/30/23

The Chapin Eagles came to Lexington for the opening game of both teams’ region schedule Sept. 29, but couldn’t come out with a win as the Wildcats outlasted them in a back and forth game that was close for most of the night and eventually decided on a handful of big plays, 22-14.

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Big defensive plays push Lexington past Chapin


The Chapin Eagles came to Lexington for the opening game of both teams’ region schedule Sept. 29, but couldn’t come out with a win as the Wildcats outlasted them in a back-and-forth game that was close for most of the night and eventually decided on a handful of big plays, 22-14.

The Wildcats came in after a loss to Gilbert, while Chapin carried a five-game winning streak with them, including three road wins. 

Lexington’s first points came courtesy of the Eagles special teams. After a quick three-and-out series, the Chapin long snapper sent the ball over his punter’s head into the end zone behind them, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 Lexington lead.

After getting the ball back on offense, it appeared that Lexington was going to turn the ball over after three plays themselves. On fourth down, however, the Wildcats called a fake punt play that broke tight end Tyler DeRienzo for a long run to the Chapin 44 and a first down, extending the drive. There would be two more fourth down conversions needed on the drive before Tyler Chavis’ 32-yard field goal attempt fell short. 

As the second quarter began, Chapin hit on a couple of big pass plays, including one to Jacob Nerone to the Lexington 29-yard line, and looked like they were driving down the field. 

Enter Montrell Byrd, who sacked Chapin’s Brady Albro back to the 38, then had two more tackles to stop the Eagles drive as they failed to connect on a 4th and 14 pass play.

Lexington’s dangerously mobile quarterback, Taiden Mines, made the Eagles pay for missing that conversion as he took a long run to the Chapin 24-yard line on the first play of the Wildcat drive. A couple of Cam Morris runs later, Lexington had the first offensive score of the game with a touchdown; a two-point conversion attempt failed, however, so the score stood at 8-0. 

The momentum swings in the first half wouldn’t let up there, however. On Chapin’s next drive, Camden Raineri took the kickoff back to the Lexington 31-yard line to set up great field position, and Jacob Marone’s reception on the next play put the Eagles on the Lexington two-yard line. Two pushes by the line up front later, Albro took it in for Chapin to make the score 8-7 at the half.

In the third quarter it was Lexington’s turn for some big plays. On a play where it looked as if Mines was about to be sacked, he managed to scramble and connect with Garrett Gallaher to the Chapin one yard line. From there, it only took one more play for Morris to run it in and make the score 15-7 Lexington. 

On Chapin’s next series, a fumble at the 40 was scooped up by Byrd, who ran it all the way back for another Wildcat touchdown and a 22-7 lead. 

Chapin tried it again as the third quarter was ending, and another Wildcat mistake on a roughing the passer penalty put the Eagles on the Lexington 17 with a first down. 

Conner Short of Chapin ran it in from the two just a few plays later to make it 22-14, which was as close as the visitors would get. A late Chapin drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter was stopped with an interception, picked off by Byrd after the Wildcat defense closed in around the Chapin quarterback. 

After the game, Lexington head coach Dustin Curtis was honest about the game’s highs and lows.

“I’m excited for our kids, because it’s hard to win games in this region,” He began. “We have a really good, deep region that’s all well coached, so any time you can pull out a win, that’s a good thing.”

Curtis admitted the team still has some work to do.

“All of our region games are going to be a battle, so in order for us to compete offensively we’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” He said. “We can move the ball really well–at the half tonight our yardage was around 200, to their 60–but we were only up by a point because we kept doing things to move ourselves behind the sticks.”

Curtis also took on some of the blame for the team’s erratic play on offense.

“I have to do a better job coaching, whether that’s doing more live drives in practice, or whatever it is that they need. I know they’re trying to do well, and it’s not lack of effort, but there is just a lack of mental focus right now.” 

The brightest spots for Curtis were on defense, and he was quick to praise not only his playmakers, but his coaching staff.

“Montrell Byrd made some big plays for us tonight,” Curtis said. “Coach Lusk has our whole defense ready to play every week, and you see the kind of intensity they play with–even when the offense is struggling, they rise to the occasion over and over. If we can just get a few things corrected, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Wildcats will travel to River Bluff next week, while the Chapin Eagles are set to host Dutch Fork.

Lexington Football, Chapin Football, Dustin Curtis, Taiden Mines, Cam Morris, Tyler DeRienzo, Jacob Nerone, Montrell Byrd, Tyler Chavis, Curtis Gallaher


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