Robert Chesson knew what he was up against. The Old Mill running back knew the North Point Eagles could bring it on defense. He knew they had just held the high-flying Arundel Wildcats to seven points through 44 minutes in Week 11. He knew they had held D.C. powerhouse and Division-I laden Friendship Collegiate to just 15 points back in October. And he knew North Point had surrendered more than a touchdown just four times all season and had never let up more than 21. And he certainly knew they had a reputation for stuffing the run.
Yes, Chesson knew all of that.
He chose not to care.
Chesson rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns against that stacked North Point defense, leading his Patriots (12-0) to a 28-7 victory and a berth in the state semifinals.
"North Point was the best defense we've played against all year. They were flying; they were really quick, really aggressive and they went hard after the football," said the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Chesson. "So to do this against that kind of defense felt real good.
"This was probably right up there with the best performance I've had this year because of what I had to do to [be successful]," he continued. "I had to keep pounding, pounding even though the holes were being filled. Then I had to really concentrate on ball security since they kept trying to strip it out."
Chesson may have had to fight for yards, but he actually started with a bang. On Old Mill's first drive he busted off a 71-yard run to set up his 1-yard touchdown plunge a couple plays later.
But after that it was all about ground-and-pound for the speedy scat 'back.
"It was 2, 3 yards a clip," said Chesson, who holds an offer from Buffalo. "I really had to grind it out."
He did just that on Old Mill's second possession. The Patriots moved 99 yards on 16 plays on perhaps their most impressive drive of the season. Chesson, for his part, toted the rock nine times on that downfield march, capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown run.
"I knew if I stayed patient and kept going at it eventually I'd break through," Chesson said. "North Point has a lot of two-way players, so I knew they couldn't keep up the intensity all game long. And that's what happened. Later in the game they weren't coming quite as hard and I started to find wider and wider holes."
Chesson was held in-check for the rest of the half and the third quarter, however. He did carry the ball on 16 of Old Mill's first 18 second-half plays but wasn't able to break through.
But that changed in the game's final frame. With the Patriots nursing a 14-7 lead with less than 8 minutes remaining, their offense was in a rather precarious situation: First-and-33 from the North Point 49-yard line. Needless to say, the chances of picking up a first down in three plays were slim.
But Chesson needed just one. On a delayed draw, he shot right up the middle behind fullback Seth Holbrook, cut to the sideline and finished off with a backbreaking touchdown that effectively iced the game.
"You know what they say, big-time players make big-time plays in big games," Chesson said. "I consider myself a big-time player."
With his 248-yard day Chesson surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season. He is now the state's leading rusher with 2,237 yards and an eye-popping 42 touchdowns.
But while Chesson admitted eclipsing 2,000 yards was one of his preseason goals, he's more concerned with leading his team to a second state title in three seasons. In 2009, Old Mill followed another electric runner, Josh Furman (Michigan), to a 4A championship. Chesson was just a sophomore then and didn't see much time. Two years later, however, he's assumed Furman's role.
"I looked up to Josh and all those guys who put in all the work to win a championship," Chesson said. "Me and my [senior] teammates learned from them what it takes to win. Now it's out turn to bring a title home. Not many players get a chance to win two championships in their careers, so to do that would be huge. We have a great opportunity to do something special."
Top Performers (Offense):
Cyrus Jones, RB, Gilman: 136 yards, TD Shane Cockerille, QB, Gilman: 110 yards, 2 TDs Thomas Stuart, QB, Calvert Hall: 265 yards, 5 TDs Wes Brown, RB, Good Counsel: 157 yards, 3 TDs Stefon Diggs, WR, Good Counsel: 183 total yards, TD Dorian O'Daniel, RB, Good Counsel: 99 yards, 2 TDs Robert Chesson, RB, Old Mill: 248 yards, 3 TDs Mike Bell, RB, St. Frances: 209 yards, 3 TDs DeAndre Lane, RB, Catonsville: 281 yards, 3 TDs Julian Singletary, RB, Catonsville: 106 yards, TD Darrell Milburn, QB, Poly: over 150 total yards, 3 TDs Josh McPhearson, RB, AACS: 180 yards, 2 TDs; 77-yard kick return TD Perez Mackell, RB, AACS: 100 yards, TD Brandon Cherry, RB, Boys' Latin: 142 yards Aaron Wells, RB, River Hill: 134 yards, 2 TDs Kenny Thomas, RB, Atholton: 106 yards, TD Brian McMahon, QB, Atholton: 106 yards, TD Curtis Kamara, RB, Churchill: 102 yards Lansana Keita, QB, Churchill: 185 yards, TD; 2 rushing TDs Billy Plante, QB, Quince Orchard: 170 yards; rushing TD Mark Green, RB, Quince Orchard: 168 yards, 2 TDs Richy Anderson, RB, Thomas Johnson: 151 total yards, 2 TDs Heath Dahlgren, QB, Thomas Johnson: 133 yards, TD; rushing TD Zach Welch, RB, Middletown: 130 yards, TD Mike Pritts, QB, Middletown: 131 total yards, 2 TDs Brady Policelli, QB, Walkersville: 200 yards, 2 TDs Forest Parker, RB, Walkersville: 118 yards, TD TJ Gamble, WR, Walkersville: 8 receptions, 100 yards, TD Chavez Cheatham, ATH, Aberdeen: over 100 total yards, 2 TDs Austin Bonsall, ATH, Aberdeen: over 150 total yards, 2 TDs Taitor Reynolds, QB, Douglass-PG: 149 yards, 3 TDs Paul Harris, WR, Douglass-PG: 7 receptions, 150 yards, 3 TDs Josef Hinnant, ATH, Douglass-PG: about 200 total yards, 2 TDs Nick Crabill, RB, Glenelg: 103 yards, TD Garrett Clay, RB, Fort Hill: 269 yards, 3 TDs Gabe Sherrod, QB, Perryville: 227 yards, 2 TDs Ethan Griffen, RB, Perryville: 191 total yards, 2 TDs Joe Peaker, RB, Perryville: 100 yards, TD Tevin Berry, QB, Overlea: 132 total yards, 3 TDs Davonte Fletcher, RB, Huntingtown: 185 yards, 3 TDs Steve Everette, RB, Edmondson: 179 yards, 3 TDs Lawrence Jackson, ATH, Edmondson: about 100 total yards, 2 TDs William Crest, QB, Dunbar: 148 yards, 2 TDs Deontay McManus, ATH, Dunbar: 100 total yards, 2 TDs Jonathan Holland, QB, Flowers: 109 yards Edwin Walker, RB, Flowers: 104 yards, TD Kyle Boone, RB, Kent Island: 179 total yards, TD Ben Goodrich, QB, Kent Island: 219 yards, 3 TDs Marlon Jones, RB, Wicomico: 137 yards, TD Christian DiPaola, QB, Maryland Christian: over 300 yards, 4 TDs