CHESTER — There’s something about Del Val League games at Chester High’s Athletic Field that sends people home talking about the strange things they had just witnessed.
When the Clippers used a late fumble return for a touchdown to defeat Academy Park in a 2019 Saturday afternoon matchup, the talk was that it would be a long time before the home fans witnessed a more exciting finish.
That was 23 months ago. Chester’s 28-27 league-opening win over Interboro Saturday may have made its way to the top of the list of wild happenings on Lamokin Street.
The Clippers, trailing by five points, snapped the ball from the Interboro 26-yard line with one second to play. Isaiah Freeman’s pass found William Smith behind a defender for six points, touching off a wild celebration.
One play earlier, after Freeman was tackled while scrambling, and it was the Bucs who thought they would be heading home upset winners until the officials ruled that Chester had called its final timeout one second before the clock struck zero.
Given another last-second chance – the first half also ended with a Chester throw into the end zone which was not caught – Freeman made the most of the opportunity and made Smith the hero.
“I told them to make the most of it and they dialed up the right play,” Chester coach LaDontay Bell said. “They picked the right time to do that.
“We were down at halftime before, but we told them that if we pulled things back together we could win still win this game.”
Interboro second-year head coach Dennis Lux had to face a group of disappointed Bucs after the crushing ending to their first league game.
“I told them we were the better team today no matter what it might have said on the scoreboard,” Lux said. “We’ve been underestimated and overlooked this season. But we still have a lot of season left and we have a lot of tough teams to play.
“This has to be one of those ‘it is what it is games,’ and we have to come back and be ready for Unionville next week.”
Chester got the only points of the opening quarter on an 85-yard drive that used up more than six minutes and concluded with a Freeman to Smith scoring pass.
Interboro tallied on both of its second-quarter possessions, with a 38-yard pass from Julian Bulovas to Abu Kamara 53 seconds before halftime giving the visitors a 15-8 advantage at the break. Kamara finished with 132 yards on 23 carries to lead all rushers.
“He’s just a great kid as well as a good football player,” Lux said.
Not long after the fans had returned from the concession stands at the end of halftime, Interboro took advantage of a Chester fumble to score its third touchdown. Three plays later, the Bucs got the ball back when Rocco Barrone picked off a Freeman pass inside the Interboro 20, but the Bucs ended up punting.
Two minutes later, Chester’s Noble Thompson scored on a 21-yard run, dragging a pair of would-be tacklers into the end zone, then Jabree Davis ran for a two-point conversion.
An Interboro fumble helped Chester to six more points, which came on a 38-yard hookup between Freeman and Kylie Harper, giving the Clippers a 22-21 lead with 6:27 to play.
Behind the running of Kamara and pass interference and late-hit penalties against Chester, the Bucs got the ball close to the goal line before Kamara fittingly put the final touches on the 80-yard drive with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The two-point conversion pass did not connect, and when Freeman and Smith made their connection on the final pass of the game, Chester was 4-0.
“I knew he would be open,” Freeman said. “The object was just to get the ball to him. It’s the kind of thing you work on in practice so that you can do it in a game.
“I got hit when I threw, but I still was able to see him make the play.”
Smith didn’t have a lot to say about his first game-winning touchdown.
“I ran a fade and just had to make sure I caught the ball,” the 5-4 receiver, who came up with four catches for 84 yards, said. “If our line gave him the chance to throw, I knew he would get the ball to me.”
In another game Saturday:
Perkiomen School 50, Delco Christian 6 >> Perkiomen School flexed its many muscles in a Keystone State Football League game against Delco Christian. As it turned out, then, Delco Christian’s first football game in 693 days did not go quite the way the Knights had hoped.
Perkiomen School, the defending KSL champion, controlled the game from the start. The Panthers opened up a 28-0 halftime lead and had a shutout going until Jake Dell’Arciprete capped an 80-yard drive with a 21-yard TD run with 50 seconds left in the game.
But that’s all the scoring the Knights would be able to muster.
Delco Christian is back on the road when it visits Mercersburg next Saturday at 2 p.m.
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