Golden Knights blank Indian River 35-0, eye D-I football tourney

DAGSBORO — Needing a win to have a shot at hosting a playoff game, Sussex Central delivered a 35-0 shutout over Indian River Thursday night to cap the 2017 regular season.

The victory pushed Central to 8-2 and dropped Indian River to a 1-9 campaign.

Coming off a 24-21 upset loss to playoff-bound Caesar Rodney a week ago, Sussex Central’s defense walked into Indian River and forced a trio of turnovers (two fumbles, one interception) to record the team’s first shutout of the season.

Four of Central’s five touchdowns came from the team’s backfield, with four different running backs scoring a touchdown.

“We need more footballs, because we can’t keep them all happy,” Wells said, jokingly, of his crowded backfield. “They’re all good kids, and they want the rock and they want to perform. But they’re teammates, so they block for each other and they run hard for each other.”

Central’s offense scored all five of its touchdowns on just six possessions in the first half to pull ahead 35-0 at the break.

An interception from Central junior Isaiah Barnes on Indian River’s second offensive drive of the game set up senior running back Drew Morris with a 12-yard touchdown run to get the scoring started.

Quarterback Isaac Barnes would hit Isaiah Barnes in stride for a deep touchdown pass as time expired in the opening quarter. A successful two-point try would put Central ahead 15-0.

Consecutive rushing touchdowns from sophomore TyJhir Sheppard-Parker and junior Zion Reed would give Central the 28-0 advantage with 5:18 remaining in the opening half.

Reed credited his offensive line’s blocking for his 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, putting him at 12 for the season.

With just seven seconds to spare in the second quarter, Ja’Ron Curtis put the dagger in IR with the team’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game.

With backups in for much of the second half, Sussex Central’s defensive unit was able to step up and preserve the shutout against Indian River’s starters.

Central’s defense made a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter, stopping IR’s offense short at the one-yard line to seal the team’s eighth victory of the season.

“It just builds our confidence,” Reed said of Central’s backups preserving the shutout. “Having them going out there and shutting them out, that just shows we have heart.”

“That’s a lot of pride, for them to go out there, knowing they’re playing against older boys,” Wells said. “It was pretty neat to see how hard they were playing. A lot of freshmen were out there, so that’s a good thing for us.”

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