Rob Chesson waited patiently until this fall for his shot to be the featured runner in the Old Mill backfield. Early in his career, the senior did his best to match his work ethic against Division I recruits Josh Furman and Demond Brown, while making his mark as a special teams ace.
Now Chesson’s name appears above those running backs and many more in the Patriots’ single-season record book. On Friday night in a Maryland 4A semifinal, he turned in a career performance, rushing for 312 yards and seven touchdowns on 24 carries in a 49-20 win over Catonsville.
Chesson has 49 total touchdowns this season — which broke the state record of 43 set by Wicomico’s David Brown in 2007 — and 2,549 rushing yards, breaking the single-season school record. He’ll have a chance to add to those marks next Friday when the Patriots (13-0) play No. 3 Quince Orchard (13-0) in the state final at M&T Bank Stadium, looking for their second state title in three years.
“I’ve looked up to the older kids that set high standards here, and I wanted to see if I could beat that,” Chesson said. “I’ve put in a lot of work over the past couple years, and it all paid off right here tonight.”
In a battle of unbeatens in Millersville, Chesson and the Patriots jumped on the Comets (12-1) early and cruised to its 13th double-digit win of the season in as many games.
After Torie Wagner recovered a fumble to stop Catonsville’s opening drive, Chesson scored on a 27-yard run for his first score of the game. The Patriots recovered the ensuing onside kick and he scored again on a 1-yard touchdown run 66 seconds later.
Chesson did lose his second fumble of the season, but he scored on five of the team’s seven first-half possessions, including four touchdown runs of at least 27 yards. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound back rolled up 264 rushing yards by halftime.
He capped Old Mill’s eight-play, 37-yard drive to start the second half with a five-yard touchdown run and added a six-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots rushed for 400 yards as a team.
“It’s a credit to the whole system,” first-year Old Mill Coach Chad McCormick said. “It doesn’t all work just one side or the other. Rob’s got incredible ability, and those guys did a great job in front.”
Afterward, Chesson, who has rushed for more than 200 yards in eight of his last nine games, marveled at his statistics.
He said he realized in the first quarter that he might be in for a special night and added that reaching the 300-yard mark in a game was one of the last individual goals to check off his list this season.
“I didn’t know I was going to come out and perform like this,” Chesson said. “I knew I was going to come out here and do my job, but to put numbers up like this when I thought it was going to be a dog fight, it shows hard work pays off.”