CHESTER >> Ishaad Maultsby didn’t need much extra motivation Saturday morning.
Maultsby had circled the Del Val date with Chester a long time ago. As it turns out, the Chichester sophomore running back has an elephant’s memory, especially when it comes to holding a grudge.
“I played weight league last year and I was waiting on revenge against the people I played against last year,” Maultsby said. “I lost the championship and a lot of the players from that team were on this team.”
Maultsby had to patiently bide his time since that loss, but Saturday, he turned the tables on the Clippers with a breakout game. Maultsby ran over the Clippers for 186 yards on 24 carries, and he scored 20 of the 21 points that the Eagles needed in a 21-20 nailbiter over Chester. The win marked Chichester’s first Del Val triumph since Oct. 31, 2014, when the Eagles nipped Penn Wood, 7-6.
The Eagles needed every single yard and point that they got from the talented sophomore. Electrifying Chester quarterback Jamir Green shook three defenders in the backfield en route to a go-ahead eight-yard touchdown with 5 minutes, 28 seconds to go. The Clippers forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing drive, but Chichester managed to get the ball back again. That’s when its offense got to work.
Damian Thompson hit Rashaad Shaw on a short drag route on third-and-seven, and Shaw did all of the work as he evaded would-be tacklers to get the ball down to the Chester four. A Chester penalty cut half of that distance, and Maultsby did the rest by powering through. Eagles coach Ryan Smith called for the two-point conversion for the win and doubled down on it after the Clippers called a timeout. Maultsby obliged his coach by rumbling through a gaping hole on the left side and running over a defender for the conversion.
“I knew the ball was coming to me,” Maultsby said. “Coach told me before the game that he was putting the ball in my hands at certain times. When it came to the two, I just thought, ‘It’s all on me. The team’s counting on me for the last play.’”
The Eagles (3-4 overall, 1-2 league) still needed a defensive stop to stymie the Clippers’ comeback attempt, and junior linebacker Quinten Haynes was all too happy to oblige. Chichester flushed Green from the pocket and his hurried throw landed in Haynes’ hands to set off the Eagles’ celebration.
“My coach told me to stay back deep,” Haynes explained. “I saw the QB looking at the wide receiver that I had to stay on, but he just lobbed it up, so I just took it. It was awesome. I had to do it for my team.”
Chichester stormed out to a 13-0 lead in the opening quarter, with Maultsby administering much of the damage with his two touchdowns. Chester (2-6, 0-3) saw its run-defense struggles show up again, this time ceding 252 yards on the ground. Despite that, the Clippers managed to strike back in style.
Green finally connected with speedster Braheem Bishop Jr. when the latter toasted his defensive assignment with an outside-in release on a go route that left him with nothing but grass in front of him. Later, Devan Freeman helped give the Clippers their first lead when he made a superb falling catch for a touchdown, then sprung Green for the two-point conversion with a fantastic block.
Despite that, it proved to be a heartbreaking loss for Chester and coach LaDontay Bell. The Clippers found themselves on the wrong end of a couple of debatable calls, but Bell found the opportunity to use the loss as an instructional tool.
“I teach them all the time that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Bell said. “Every play counts. It’s all four quarters. It’s how you finish. Period. That’s the bottom line to me. We can start slow and win the game, start fast and lose the game, but it’s how you finish. It’s a tough loss, but it’s a teachable moment.”