Game of the Week
in Defeat at CR
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Photos: Sussex Central fullback Teddy Thompson (35, above) runs with a pass in the fourth quarter. Below, Blake Hershelman (19) on a 61-yard run and defensive end Jesse Makowski (44) wraps up CR's Charles Clark.
GEORGETOWN -- For the second year in a row, the Sussex Central High School football team finds itself in a sudden-death situation.
With turnovers and penalties killing promising drives in a 21-10 loss at Caesar Rodney on Friday, Nov. 3, 2000, the Golden Knights must most likely win their final two games to have a shot at the school's first Division I state tournament berth.
The Knights imploded in the Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest at CR with four turnovers including a fumble at the CR 20 and an interception that CR returned for a touchdown as part of a 14-point spurt in a 23-second span just before halftime.
Those miscues cost the Knights, who actually outgained the Riders in total yards, dearly in their first loss of the season.
Now the Knights, at 3-1 in the North and 7-1 overall, must beat Sussex Tech on Friday, Nov. 10, and Christiana in a non-conference game on Nov. 17, to still have a shot at the Henlopen North title and automatic tournament berth or an at-large berth.
Sussex Central could still win the North if it beats Tech and Dover beats CR on Nov. 17. If that were to happen, the Knights, CR and Dover would all be tied with 4-1 records and the title would be decided by a point differential against division opponents.
If CR beats Dover and claims the title outright, the Knights would probably need wins against Tech and Christiana to make the tournament as an at-large entry. Last year, after a 48-0 loss to CR, the Knights lost a tournament bid with a 13-12 defeat at St. Mark's that ended their season at 8-2.
That certainly wasn't the kind of deja vu Sussex Central had in mind when it traveled to CR (7-1, 4-0) Friday night as the second-ranked team in the state. And early on against the fourth-ranked Riders, it looked like this would be the Knights' night.
First, the Knights converted a fumble recovery by lineman Orlando Short at the CR 15 into a 29-yard field goal by kicker Justin Battaglino for a 3-0 first quarter lead, and after a CR punt, quarterback Blake Hershelman bootlegged 61 yards for a first down at the CR 33 with five minutes left in the period.
But just as suddenly, the wheels came off, as the Knights lost five yards on three plays, punted, and saw the Riders march 80 yards in 13 plays to take a 7-3 second quarter lead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Sawyer to wide receiver Ron Rhoades.
The Knights never seemed to fully recover from that even though they outgained CR 270 total yards to 237. Even after lineman Jake Booth recovered another CR fumble at the SC 32, the Knights couldn't capitalize as they turned the ball over on an interception by the Riders' Matt Donahue at the Knight 36.
The Riders did capitalize, however, and virtually sealed the outcome with 14 points in the closing seconds of the first half.
First, the Riders drove the 36 yards after Donahue's fumble recovery in 10 plays with running back Charles Clark going over from 2 yards out for a 14-3 lead with 30.8 seconds left in the half.
And then, CR's Scott Watras intercepted an attempted screen pass by Hershelman and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 7.5 seconds left and a 21-3 CR lead.
The final blow to the Knights' chances occurred on their first drive of the second half. The Knights stormed from their own 15 to the CR 20 in just five plays on their first possession of the second half only to fumble away any chance at a comeback on an attempted reverse.
After that, CR ate up the rest of the third quarter and the Knights were unable to score until the game's final seconds on a 55-yard touchdown play on a screen pass from Hershelman to running back Yoree Washington.
7:30 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (3-0 Sussex Central)
9:18 -- CAESAR RODNEY (7-3 Caesar Rodney)
30.8 -- CAESAR RODNEY (14-3 Caesar Rodney)
:07.5 -- CAESAR RODNEY (21-3 Caesar Rodney)
13.0 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (21-10 Caesar Rodney)
Total Offense -- Caesar Rodney 53-237; Sussex Central 47-270.
Rushing -- Caesar Rodney 49-198, Sussex Central 38-202.
Passing -- Caesar Rodney 2-5-0, 39, 1 TD, Sussex Central 2-9-3, 68, 1 TD.
First Downs -- Caesar Rodney 13, Sussex Central 12.
Fumbles/Lost -- Caesar Rodney 4/2, Sussex Central 2/1.
Penalties/Yards -- Caesar Rodney 3/25, Sussex Central 3-25.
Caesar Rodney -- Stephon Beckham 5-83, Charles Clark 21-80, Carl Dyton 12-26, Tom Sawyer 9-1, Ron Rhoades 1-5, Mike Henry 1-3.
Sussex Central -- George Davis 20-86, Blake Hershelman 6-76, Yoree Washington 10-29, Teddy Thompson 2-11.
Caesar Rodney -- Tom Sawyer 2-4-0, 39, 1 TD; Ron Rhoades 0-1-0.
Sussex Central -- Blake Hershelman 2-9-3, 68, 1 TD.
Caesar Rodney -- Ron Rhoades 1-26, Justin Stickland 1-13.
Sussex Central -- Yoree Washington 1-55, Teddy Thompson 1-13.
Photos: Sussex Central linebacker Blake Hershelman (above) pops CR's Stephon Beckham for a fumble recovered by lineman Jake Booth (50), while Knight running back George Davis rips off a 24-yard run (left photo) and SC defensive end Orlando Farrow sacks CR quarterback Tom Sawyer.
Sussex Central head coach John Wells on the loss:
"Yeah, we made too many mistakes. Too many penalties. Too batted balls go the other way for interceptions. The boys played hard in the second half. The defense, I thought, was phenomenal. We were driving the ball, then fumbled the ball in the red zone, three picks, two of the picks were tipped passes."
Wells on the Knights' playoff chances:
"I think we have to win both (Sussex Tech on Nov. 10 and Christiana on Nov. 17). It's pretty much obvious. I'd say we need to win both to get in."
Play of the Game:
Sussex Central quarterback Blake Hershelman rips off a 61-yard run.
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