Defense keys Knights’ 29-6 home victory over Polytech

GEORGETOWN — When Sussex Central High linebacker Brian Evans picked off a pass in the middle of the field, there was nothing blocking his view of the other side of the field.

“I saw the end zone,” Evans said. “I just felt free.”

Evans recorded a pair of interceptions and returned the first for a touchdown to highlight a solid defensive performance by the Golden Knights in their 29-6 victory over Polytech on Friday night in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division matchup.

The contest pitted two teams who entered Friday at 5-1 overall. Sussex Central moved to 3-1 in the Henlopen North (6-1 overall) while Polytech dropped its first game in North play and had its five-game win streak snapped. The Panthers dropped to 2-1 in the North and 5-2 overall.

Sussex Central rebounded from its first loss of the season last week, a 46-13 result at Smyrna.

“I was happy with the bounceback,” said Sussex Central coach John Wells. “We could have overlooked Polytech. This could have been a catch game for us. But we respected the opponent, coach Kevin Smith has done a great job with that program. Their defense has been lights out not giving up more than a touchdown, keeping teams in single digits. So I was impressed with how we were able to perform against a solid defense like that.”

Sussex Central took the early lead on a 25-yard touchdown run on a sweep play by TyJhir Sheppard-Parker on its first drive of the game. The Golden Knights ran the same sweep a few drives later except this time it was Drew Morris who found the open field and scampered 77 yards for a touchdown.

The Panthers turned it over on their first play on the ensuing possession as Evans snagged an attempted pass and returned it 41 yards into the end zone.

Evans intercepted another pass in the second half while Isaiah Barnes recovered a fumble for Sussex Central’s third forced turnover of the night.

“We came together as a team,” Evans said. “The coaches had a good gameplan and we made sure we executed it together.”

Barnes also caught a touchdown of his own on offense. He out-jumped the Polytech secondary for a 15-yard touchdown reception thrown by his brother Isaac Barnes late in the fourth quarter.

The Golden Knights kept Polytech out of the end zone until there was less than three minutes to go in the game. Donell Hooker provided the lone touchdown for the Panthers on a 12-yard rush.

Polytech made it deep into Sussex Central territory three times prior but did not find the end zone until the final drive.

“We never got into a rhythm,” said Polytech coach Kevin Smith. “On our first drive we were going good then we stalled out then that happened a couple of more times. That’s been happening to us but we’ve been able to overcome it in these games. When you’re playing a team like Sussex Central though, you can’t do that.”

The loss dropped Polytech back to third in the Henlopen North but the Panthers are still in playoff contention depending on how they do in their final three games (at Dover, home vs. Sussex Tech and Smyrna).

“All our goals are still there,” Smith said. “We don’t need to change everything because we lost to a good team. Sussex Central is legit. We don’t need to go bonkers because we lost to them. It’s just one hiccup, we need to stay the course.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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