Ends in Dover
Half in 19-6 Triumph
Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos: SC lineman Terry Williams drags down Dover end Jason Lilly (top), Orlando Farrow crunches Dover quarterback Collins Evans (middle), and lineman Stephen Whitley drops Dover's Pierre Bowers for a loss.
DOVER -- As the Sussex Central High School football team did to Dover last year, Dover did to Sussex Central this year.
And the result for Sussex Central was a 19-6 Delaware Division I state tournament semifinal loss to Dover on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2001, that ended its season at 9-2 overall and prevented it from reaching the state championship game for the second straight year.
Dover, the tournament's second seed, rose to 11-0 overall. The Senators will meet four-time defending state champion and top seed Newark in the Division I state championship game at a date, site and time to be determined. Newark beat William Penn 6-0 in its semifinal game on Friday night.
As for Dover and Sussex Central, it was only a year ago that Central had beaten Dover during the regular season to earn a home game against the Senators in the state semifinals. The senior-laden Knights beat an inexperienced Dover team in that semifinal game, 33-3.
This year, though, Dover, returning all of those players while the Knights lost a number of all-state seniors, defeated the Knights 34-32 on the way to the Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship to bring this year's semifinal to Dover.
And just as Central beat Dover last year in the semifinals, Dover beat Central this year.
The game was actually a draw for much of the night as the teams entered the locker room at halftime tied 0-0.
To that point, the Knights had done a respectable job against standout Dover running back Pierre Bowers, who was efficient with 51 first half yards but not the spectacular player who burned Central for more than 240 yards rushing in October.
But after the Knights opened the second half with a drive that stalled at their own 34 following two big losses, Dover senior Jason Lilly returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, and even though it was called back for clipping, the Senators had the ball at the Central 37.
Eight plays and five Bowers carries later, the Senators were in the end zone on a 3-yard Bowers run with 4:25 to go in the third quarter. A missed extra point kept the lead at 6-0 and lifted the Knights' spirits.
The biggest play of the game, however, occurred on Central's next drive. On third-and-eight, SC quarterback Dave Pusey was sacked and the resulting fumble was recovered by Dover lineman Brian Wasko at the Knight 31.
Dover turned that opportunity into a 9-play drive capped by Bowers' 2-yard TD run. Another missed extra point left the lead at 12-0 with 11:22 to go in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Knights committed an illegal forward pass and were stuck at their own 10-yard line. The Knights could do nothing with that possession and seemingly deflated, saw the Senators march 64 yards in 7 plays capped by Bowers' 1-yard scoring plunge with 6:58 remaining.
He had a 35-yard run to start the drive -- his longest run of the night on the way to a game-high 182 yards rushing.
Down 19-0, the Knights finally got on the board when Pusey lofted a pretty 69-yard touchdown bomb to split end Andrew Weatherly to pull Central within 19-6 with 6:42 left in the game.
The Knights' remaining hopes, however, were pretty much dashed when Dover got a first down at the Knight 15 on a 17-yard run by Antoine Bagwell and a 15-yard facemask penalty.
Even though Dover didn't score with that possession, the Knights, backed up at their own 13 with 3:20 to go, were unable to mount a late drive.
4:25 -- DOVER (6-0 Dover)
11:22 -- DOVER (12-0 Dover)
6:58 -- DOVER (19-0 Dover)
6:42 -- SUSSEX CENTRAL (19-6 Dover)
Total Offense -- Sussex Central 38-181, Dover 56-239.
Rushing -- Sussex Central 23-82, Dover 53-239.
Passing -- Sussex Central 4-15-0, 99; Dover 0-3-0.
First Downs -- Sussex Central 8, Dover 11.
Fumbles/Lost -- Sussex Central 2/1, Dover 1/0.
Penalties/Yards -- Sussex Central 6-32, Dover 7-55.
Sussex Central -- Orlando Farrow 11-51, Jonathan Ricketts 7-27, Dave Pusey 2-0, Andrew Weatherly 3-4.
Dover -- Pierre Bowers 32-182, Lawrence Dixon 9-36, Jason Lilly 3-10, Antoine Bagwell 3-21, Collins Evans 5-(-11), Jon Lust 1-1.
Sussex Central -- David Pusey 4-15-0, 99.
Dover -- Collins Evans 0-3-0.
Sussex Central -- Andrew Weatherly 3-88, Jesse Makowski 1-11.
Sussex Central head coach John Wells on the loss:
"I thought we did a good job of stopping him (Dover running back Pierre Bowers) early. The first half was 0-0. We just played with mistakes in the second half. We had a little drive going and then Jon Jon (running back Jonathan Ricketts) fumbled the ball and got it back, and then it's second down and long, and then we go for a pass and Pusey (quarterback Dave Pusey) gets hit and fumbles the ball, and instead of being able to punt the ball for field position, they get the ball deep in our territory again after scoring their first touchdown. Then from there we just played with mistakes. We had some people open, we missed a couple receivers. Pusey has carried us at times when we couldn't run the ball, and with Farrow (fullback Orlando Farrow) being hurt, Pusey and Drew (receiver Andrew Weatherly) and Jesse (tight end Jesse Makowski) have carried us in the passing game a little bit, but we just seemed to be a litle bit off the mark tonight. Take your hats off to Dover. Once we got behind they could just sit back and pound Bowers three or four times in four-down territory with the lead. Before that I thought we did a good job of keeping them in check. Then we we started making mistakes and when you get behind, it's tough to stop them. Take your hearts off to dover. They're a good team, senior-laden, good leadership, and that's what you need in these kinds of games."
Wells on this year's seniors:
"Gutsy. No one counted them here. That's what i told the guys right here. We lost quality seniors last year. Blake Hershelman, George Davis, so many offensive football players, Matt Lawrence to Wisconsin, Teddy Thompson, Jack Roach and Jake Booth, four or five different ones that are playing college football. Those guys lost two players that aren't playing football. So they've had quite a few kids back. So for our kids to playing in this game, and to play like we did last time against them and like we did this time against them, that says something for our off-season program and for our kids to be here. We weren't supposed to be here and with a break here and there, who knows, as far as the conference and being at the next level. I'm proud of them. These guys came out and proved a lot of people wrong. They played quality football all year long. Hats off to my guys. Big hearts, they have big hearts."
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