Eagles air it out to take down Liberty

By Jimmy Kirby
Courier Sports

CHESNEE — The Chesnee Eagles were the cream of the crop in Region[cointent_lockedcontent]

Brandy Karr/Photo Liberty’s Tyler Renaud looks for running room during the Devils’ loss at Chesnee on Friday night.

Brandy Karr/Photo
Liberty’s Tyler Renaud looks for running room during the Devils’ loss at Chesnee on Friday night.

I-AA last year and made a deep run in the playoffs. After the loss of a senior-laden squad in 2014, the Eagles seem to be sprouting wings this season after a slow start.

Dylan Donnahoo threw for 309 yards and four touchdown passes to overcome a sluggish Chesnee start en route to a 35-21 victory over the Liberty Red Devils last week.

With breezes blowing and the game moved to a Thursday night kickoff due to the bad weather moving in on Friday and Saturday, the Eagles’ air attack was more than enough for the Liberty ground game in providing a win.

The victory didn’t come easy, as Chesnee trailed at the half by the score of 21-14. The Red Devils were charitable recipients of opportunity in the first half, as they scored twice in the span of 14 seconds to take a 14-7 lead thanks to some help from the Eagles.

The first score of the game came after Chesnee was backed up deep in its own territory to start a drive. After a three-yard loss on first down by Ethan Ezell, Donnahoo found Josh Robinson behind the defense for a 94-yard bomb to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead and ignite the Chesnee faithful.

Following a fine 45-yard kickoff return by Kris Murphy, the Red Devils only had to march 27 yards for their first score. Tyler Renaud scored from three yards out to knot the score at 7-7. Austin Hughey had a nice keeper on the drive good for 16 yards, down to the Eagles’ 5-yard line.

On the ensuing kickoff, Aaron Bates’ super hit on Austin Page forced a fumble, and Liberty’s Kevin Tabron scooped up the loose ball at the Chesnee 41-yard line and raced down the right sideline for a 14-7 Red Devil lead.

Chesnee then went 60 yards in 10 plays, and Donnahoo completed his second touchdown pass, this time good for 23 yards, as he found Isaiah Ellis in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 14-14, still in the first quarter.

The Red Devils took the lead at the half thanks to a bad punt snap by the Eagles at their own 16-yard line. Five plays later, Nick Reeves went over right guard from one yard out to make the score 21-14 in favor of the visitors.

The Red Devils had a great chance to extend their lead on their first series of the third quarter. Tabron was right in the middle of the action again as he intercepted a Donnahoo pass and returned it 19 yards to the Chesnee 41-yard line. Liberty was driving, but a Cavaugio Butler fumble on the exchange at the Eagle 21-yard line ended the drive and shifted the momentum back to Chesnee.

Two possessions later, Donnahoo was again coming up with a big play, as this time he connected with Josh Robinson for a 43-yard touchdown strike past the Liberty defense to tie the game at 21-21.

The Red Devils were not able to mount any serious drives after that, and the Eagles played flawlessly in the fourth quarter. The Red Devils mounted a small drive of 28 yards to the Eagle 44-yard line, but were forced to punt.

Hughey backed the Eagles up again deep in their own territory to the 31-yard line with a 31-yard punt. This time Donnahoo put the nail in the coffin with his fourth touchdown pass of the night, an 82-yard hookup with Robinson for a 28-21 lead.

Ethan Ezell, who was everywhere on the field for the Eagle defense, with 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, intercepted a Reeves pass at the 27-yard line and returned it seven yards to the Liberty 20-yard line with 3:08 remaining.

Isaiah Morris then scored on a four-yard run to make the final score 35-21.

The Eagles’ air attack was too much for the Red Devil rushing attack. Donnahoo was 16-of-25 on the evening for his 309 passing yards. Robinson and Ellis were his favorite receivers, with six receptions each. Robinson amassed 230 receiving yards.

Renaud was the workhorse for the Red Devils, with 59 yards on 17 carries. Hughey followed with 30 yards on eight carries.

Hughey and Reeves were a combined 4-of-12 passing for just 44 yards.

Aaron Bates led the Red Devils’ defense with seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

With the loss, Liberty falls to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in region play. Chesnee improves to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in region play.

The Red Devils will return home this week to take on the Blacksburg Wildcats.