Knights get past CR for second straight victory

 

CAMDEN — For a while, the list of Sussex Central High’s injured or ill football players was growing faster than its number of victories.

But rather than give up, said coach John Wells, the Golden Knights dug in.

And after handling Caesar Rodney, 28-6, in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division matchup on Friday night, Central finds itself back at .500 for the season.

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Considering the Knights (2-1 North, 3-3 overall) lost three games in a row at one point, Wells will take it.

“I think being 1-3, we didn’t like it,” said Wells, who has lost seven starters for different reasons. “They kept working hard. They didn’t quit on each other.”

Of course, it helps that KiAnte‘ Sturgis is one of the players the Knights still have on the field.

On Friday, the senior running back gave Central the lead for good when he returned a punt 80 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. Sturgis then scored on an 18-yard run in the third to give the Knights a more comfortable 14-0 advantage.

It wasn’t quite the eye-opening performance that Sturgis had in a win over Cape Henlopen on Saturday when he ran for almost 250 yards and three touchdowns. But the Indian River transfer still finished with 96 yards on 19 carries against the Riders (0-2, 1-5).

“He’s the kind of athlete that, it doesn’t have to be perfect,” said Wells. “Some backs, you’ve got to have a good hole and good blocking. A kid like, if you don’t hold your block as long as you should or they make a good call on defense, he can beat it sometimes. He’s pretty special.”

“We practice hard,” said Sturgis. “We just focus on what we have to do and do our job.”

From CR’s standpoint, the Riders were doing a good job of staying with the Knights before a big crowd on their homecoming night.

But the game turned on a couple crucial mistakes in the third quarter. On Central’s first possession of the second half, it looked like CR was going to have the Knights in a fourth-and-long.

The Riders, though, were called for a facemask penalty and, on the next play, Sturgis scored on his 18-yard burst up the middle.

Then, on CR’s ensuing possession, the Riders fumbled the ball at their own four with Mark Tolson recovering for the Knights. On the next play, John Morris scored on a four-yard run and Central’s lead had suddenly balooned to 21-0 with 5:54 left in the third quarter.

“We’re kind of beating ourselves,” said Riders coach Dan Candeloro. “I think we’re all pressing too hard to try to do good things and they’re just not working out. The kids are fighting.”

CR did get something going in the fourth quarter when it scored its only touchdown. Senior Jordan Walters scored on a 12-yard run with 4:12 remaining to pull the Riders within 21-6.

But, after a failed onsides kick attempt gave the Knights the ball at midfield, senior Cory McCary finished off the scoring on a 15-yard TD run with 1:18 on the clock.

The Riders got a spark from sophomore quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer, who entered the game in the second half and completed 10-of-19 passes for 100 yards with an interception.

“We’re showing growth,” said Candeloro. “We’ve just got to finish the game.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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