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Tough loss to Spring-Ford leaves Chester coach feeling optimistic

CHESTER >> LaDontay Bell fondly recalls how his tenure at Chester began in 2016: A gritty, three-point victory over Haverford, then a collapse against Spring-Ford, the Clippers losing that game by 33.

Bell wanted to see some of the belief and maturity he’s come to expect from his squad to begin this new season, even after being routed by Haverford last week. Against Spring-Ford, however, the Clippers seemed to be motivated by last year’s loss. Despite causing four turnovers, the Clippers dropped their home opener to Spring-Ford, 28-20.

In dropping to 0-2, though, Bell saw a lot of things that his team should be optimistic about.

“I try my best to make sure that attitude affects leadership,” Bell said. “I told them as a leader I believe that, so we came back in the second half with belief. We showed it in our actions and in our play.”

Chester got things started by forcing one of four Spring-Ford fumbles on a punt return by Tyler Edwards at the Rams’ 20-yard line. Three plays later, running back Devan Freeman scored the first of his two touchdowns from three yards out.

From there, though, the game swung in favor of the Rams.

Spring-Ford (1-1) strung together 28 straight points, led by quarterback TJ Pergine (165 passing yards, two touchdowns) and running back Justin Defrancesco (110 yards). The Rams took a 20-point lead into halftime, but Freeman and his teammates were not about to bow down. They remembered what their coach has continually preached to them.

“Coach Bell has taught us to never give up,” Freeman said. “We always just go all out but unfortunately the score didn’t come out the way we hoped. We all fought as brothers and I’m very proud of that.”

To begin the second half, the Clippers’ defense forced a fumble by Stephen Brill and the offense was able to turn that into a points, as Freeman scampered in from five yards out. Two drives later, Freeman’s tough running was beginning to be stymied by the Rams’ front seven so Bell went with a change-of-pace back in fellow senior Cahron Wilmore. With 9:48 left in the third quarter, Wilmore took a delayed handoff and sprinted 63 yards for the score to cut the deficit to 28-20. Wilmore accounted for 100 of the Clippers’ 196 rushing yards.

Chester had a chance near the end to perhaps get even but quarterback Tahree Fuller-Bryan’s incomplete pass on fourth down with 2:37 left stymied a drive.

“It’s resiliency,” Bell said. “They fought and it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

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