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Knights snap skid with 44-19 victory

Posted: October 22, 2011 12:57 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Earlier this season, North Central was piling up some huge offensive numbers in all areas save for the scoreboard. Half of that equation changed on Friday night.

Playing their final home game of the season, the Knights struck early before handing the game over to their younger player in scoring their first win of the season with a 44-19 victory over visiting McBee.

On a night in which Louis Clyburn’s troops scored 28 first quarter points, the NC offense rang up 311 of their 439 total yards by intermission. Senior tailback Tavarus Porter led the charge as he went well over the 1,000-yard mark for the season by rushing for 259 yards and five touchdowns, while also having a pair of scoring runs called back by penalties. Porter has now run for 1,215 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

Porter was one of 15 seniors who were honored during the evening as part of Senior Night activities. Clyburn said the group received a perfect send-off.

"It’s always good for those seniors to go out and win their last home game," Clyburn said.

"This was one of those nights where everything that we’ve been teaching these kids came together for them. Offensively, we have been putting up big numbers this year, but we’ve had a tough time putting the ball in the end zone. In this game, we were able to convert on a lot of third downs and we had drives that didn’t stall."

NC set the tone for this one right from the get-go as the Knights defense forced a Panther punt on the game’s first series. The hosts took over at their own 75 and the precision-like march was capped by a 10-yard Porter scoring run. Alan Estrada then booted home the first of his four PAT kicks before leaving the game with an ankle injury.

Using a sky kick to negate a big runback, the Knights recovered the muffed ball at the MHS 35. On the next snap, Porter took off for a 35-yard scoring run and some two minutes into the contest, NC was on top, 14-0.

After a second Panther punt, NC set up shop at its own 60 with Porter capping the 60-yard march with a 23-yard run for a 21-0 lead.

The Panthers would get on the board with a touchdown which was answered by a 70-yard NC march, highlighted by a 40-yard Grayson King-to-Anthony Spinelli pass. Fullback Tristan McCathern ended the drive with a two-yard plunge as the hosts took a 28-7 lead into the second stanza.

MHS trimmed the deficit to 28-13 with a second quarter score. After that touchdown, the NC defensive staff made some quick adjustments.

"McBee came out in the spread, rather than the wishbone," Clyburn said. "They hurt us with the counter play on both their scoring drives. After the second one, our coaches made some adjustments, especially with our defensive ends and we got that straightened out because we stopped them the rest of the night.

"I thought our defensive line took over. We had five or six sacks in the game."

NC closed the first half scoring with a 22-yard Porter scoring run, a touchdown set up by a 30-yard King-to-Austin Furman completion. With Estrada injured, Spinelli caught the two-yard conversion pass from King for a 35-13 halftime lead.

The Knights scored another touchdown when Porter broke loose for a 70-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Myles Dunham would run in the two-point conversion to make it 44-13.

The Panthers closed the scoring with a fourth quarter touchdown against the NC reserves which included mostly junior varsity players as Clyburn cleared his bench early.

"This was one of those games where we could have scored 60 or 70 points, but we’re not going to be hypocritical," Clyburn said. "Over the past couple years, McBee has left their starters in against us all the way until the end. We preach to our kids that you win the right way and you lose the right way. You have to handle yourself with dignity."

Clyburn said he thought both his players and coaches did a good job in handling things after their first win in nine tries this season.

"As hungry as we were for a win, I thought that we handled it very well," he said. "Our kids stayed focused once we got the lead. You have to credit our coaches on the sidelines for keeping our guys focused. You don’t celebrate a victory until the horn sounds at the end of the fourth quarter. I thought our guys did a good job with that."

Clyburn said the game was a physical one on both sides, but a clean contest, as well, between a pair of rivals. He said that after not cashing in on chances earlier this season, the Knights took control of this game early and never loosened their grip.

"The difference between this game and games with Green Sea-Floyds, St. Joseph’s and Great Falls and others is that we capitalized on our scoring chances and on their mistakes," he said of the McBee contest. "We got out to an early lead and we got the momentum on our side. Basically, we flip-flopped from some of our other games this year.

"We took control of this game early, got in front and kept doing good things after that."

Knight Lights: Porter has now rushed for 1,215 yards in his three seasons while having scored 24 touchdowns. This marked his first time in going over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a season ... As a team, NC had 34 carries for 329 yards while King connected on nine of his 18 pass attempts for 110 yards. King also topped the 1,000-yard mark on the season and has now thrown for 1,069 yards in this, his junior campaign ... Spinelli had a pair of grabs for 41 yards while Furman made two catches which netted 37 yards ... McBee rushed for 168 yards on 43 carries and threw for 131 of its 299 yards in total offense ... The Knights will try to close out the season with a two-game win streak when they travel to Columbia to meet C.A. Johnson in the season finale on Friday night.

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