Sussex County Delaware
Central Pushes No. 2
St. Mark's to the Limit
Game of the Week ...

Fumbles, Fourth Downs
Difference in 17-12 Loss
  • Story
  • Scoring
  • Notes
  • Central 2002 Recap
  • Division I State Champions
  • Game of the Week Story ...

    Sussex Central fullback Jamil YoungPhotos (from top): Seniors Jamil Young (3), David Pusey (7) and Lewis Day (56) played their final games for Sussex Central.

    The Sussex Central High School football team limped into the Division I state tournament semifinals on Friday, Nov. 29, 2002, injured both physically and emotionally.

    But despite a 17-12 loss to second-seeded St. Mark's at Baynard Stadium in Wilmington, the Golden Knights walked out with their heads high.

    Central finished its third straight state tournament season with a 9-2 record overall and the program's first Henlopen Conference Northern Division championship.

    St. Mark's, meanwhile, will ride into the state championship game next weekend at the University of Delaware's Tubby Raymond Stadium with a 10-1 mark.

    The Spartans will face the winner of the Saturday, Nov. 30 semifinal between top seed William Penn and No. 4 Middletown.

    Sussex Central quarterback David PuseyComing off a 23-7 regular season-ending loss to Middletown that prevented them from securing the program's first undefeated regular season since 1970, and playing without all-state wide receiver Andrew Weatherly due to an ankle injury, the Knights pushed favored St. Mark's to the limit.

    In fact, the Knights outgained St. Mark's 194-164 in total yards and tied the Spartans 10-10 in first downs.

    Senior running back Jamil Young, the transfer from Woodbridge largely responsible for the Knights' success in 2002, scored two touchdowns, one from 3 yards out in the second period and another from 1 yard out in the fourth period that pulled Central within 17-12 with 11:42 left.

    The Knights had a chance to take the lead moments later in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Eric Wyatt forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Kevin VanVorst at St. Mark's 49-yard-line.

    But after advancing to St. Mark's 27 with 8 minutes left, the Knights were stopped on downs with 7:34 remaining in the game and never got the ball back as the Spartans ran 13 plays, including a pair of fourth-down conversions, to run off the remaining time.

    Sussex Central linebacker Lewis DayIn the end, those fourth-down conversions and two lost fumbles proved to be the Knights' undoing.

    First, with Central leading 6-3 in the second period, punter David Pusey turned a low snap into a completion to A.J. Neal, but Neal fell down short of the first down trying to avoid a St. Mark's tackler.

    The Spartans turned that break into a 7-play, 23-yard scoring drive, with running back Jonathan Heydt scoring from 1 yard out for a 10-6 Spartan advantage.

    Heydt then scored the Spartans' winning points on a 15-yard return of a fumble by Knight halfback Will James for a touchdown and a 17-6 advantage with 3:22 remaining in the third period.

    Unlike the loss to Middletown, though, Central didn't back down this time and scored less than three minutes later to pull within 17-12.

    Scoring ...

    ST. MARK'S

    First Quarter:

    St. Mark's (3-0 St. Mark's)
    Dave Dickinson 37 field goal

    Second Quarter:

    SUSSEX CENTRAL (6-3 Sussex Central)
    Jamil Young 3 run
    Run failed

    ST. MARK'S (10-6 St. Mark's)
    Jonathan Heydt 1 run
    Dave Dickinson kick

    Third Quarter:

    St. Mark's (17-6 St. Mark's)
    Jonathan Heydt 14 fumble return
    Dave Dickinson kick

    Fourth Quarter:

    Sussex Central (17-12 St. Mark's)
    Jamil Young 1 run
    Pass failed

    Notes ...

    • The Knights rushed for 107 yards, with fullback Jamil Young leading the way with 36 hard-fought yards on 13 carries. Young also caught 4 passes for 57 yards. Adam Blocker led St. Mark's with 55 yards on 17 carries.

    • Central quarterback David Pusey played well in his final game with the Knights. The two-year starter completed 8 of 15 passes for 88 yards with one interception.

    • Central's Young and defensive end A.J. Neal recorded a rare, if not unique, accomplishment by playing in both the Division I and Division II state tournaments and by playing in the state tournament with two different teams. Young and Neal played on the 1999 and 2000 Woodbridge teams that made the Division II state tournament.

    • St. Mark's standout quarterback Joey Wright, called by Central head coach John Wells "the best quarterback in the state", left the game in the third quarter with an aggravated knee injury and was replaced by Mark Lemon. Lemon went 4-for-7 for 51 yards including a completion on fourth down on the Spartans' game-ending, 13-play drive.

    • This was the second straight year the Knights have been eliminated in the state tournament semifinals. Central lost to state finalist Dover in last year's semifinals.

      Central defensive back Terron Hall picked off a pass in the third period.

    • Looking to next year, the Knights lose a good corp of seniors but return a number of underclassmen who started Friday night, as well. The Knights will lose senior starters David Pusey (QB/P), Jamil Young (FB/DB), A.J. Neal (E/DE), Lewis Day (LB), Justin King (OT), Layton Wright (OT/DE), and Eric Wyatt (DT). Also gone will be all-state split end Andrew Weatherly, who missed the state semifinals with an injury. Returning starters will be Spencer Booth (TE/DT), Will James (HB), Terron Hall (HB), Jeremy Baker (SE), Kevin VanVorst (LB), Charles Stanfield (C) and Danny Milam (PK). The Knights' major task will be finding a replacement for Pusey, who started the last two years at quarterback.

    • This is the first year since 1999 that the state championship game won't include a downstate team. Central lost to Newark in the 2000 finals and Dover became Newark's fifth straight state title victim in the 2001 final.

    • St. Mark's last reached the state title game in 1999. The Spartans lost to Newark 22-0 that year.

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