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Knights’ passing game clicks in 33-8 victory

Posted: August 27, 2018 3:14 p.m.
Updated: August 28, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

MARKELL PORTEE CAUGHT THREE touchdown passes in North Central’s 33-8 win over Columbia on Friday night in Boonetown.

There is nothing like a large sip of Cola to take the nasty taste of losing out of your mouth.

Having been blanked by AAA Camden in its opener a week earlier, North Central picked on and beat a rival of its own size as the Knights thumped visiting Columbia, 33-8, Friday night at Knights Stadium in Boonetown.

The victory over the AA Capitals gave Tyronne Drakeford and company a 1-1 record heading into Friday’s home game with winless McBee.

The win was a breakout one for first-year NC starting quarterback Avante’ Reynolds with the senior signal-caller having thrown three touchdown passes on the night. Senior wide out Markell Portee was on the receiving end of two of those while also grabbing a scoring toss from Austin Bowers in the fourth quarter.

North Central got the scoring started thanks to some help from the visitors who, after going three and out on the game’s first series, had a bad snap to their punter on fourth down. The Knights’ Jamel Jones tracked down the punter-turned-ball carrier giving the hosts’ offense a first down at the Capitals’ 18 yard line.

It took one play for NC to start the scoring as Jones took the pitch from Reynolds on the inside zone run. The senior cut back against the grain and scored on NC’s first play from scrimmage. Hunter Haven tacked on the PAT kick for the quick 7-0 lead.

After each side returned possession to the other on downs twice, NC took control of the football at the Columbia one yard line with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. Some four minutes later, at the CHS 33, Reynolds lofted a long pass to the 6-foot-1 Portee who leaped over the defender and got the underthrown pass and rolled over into the end zone for the touchdown which put the hosts on top, 14-0.

Columbia’s first score of the night capped a 52-yard drive with quarterback Jordan Puch firing an eight-yard pass for the touchdown which was followed by a successful two-point conversion run as the Caps cut the lead to 14-8 with just under four minutes before halftime.

The Knights put this one away by scoring three fourth quarter touchdowns.

The first of those came after stopping the Caps at the NC 27 with 11 minutes left in the game. The march ended with Reynolds spotting Portee on a flood route pass from 28 yards out. The key block was leveled by wide out Esteban Rodriguez at the five which sprung Portee. The two-point conversion pass failed as NC’s lead stayed at 20-8.

The Knights padded their advantage minutes later as wide out Tyler Faulkenberry  came from the left side of the formation took a pitch from Reynolds on the jet sweep and springted 23 yards into the end zone for the touchdown and a 27-8 lead.

The final points of the night came courtesy of an eight-yard pass from quarterback Austin Bowers to Portee.

While Reynolds had three touchdown passes and Bowers one with Portee on the receiving end of three scoring tosses and Faulkenberry one, freshman tailback Seantrell Davis-Warren led the Knights’ ground game rushing for 77 yards on 12 carries. Jones was next with four carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.

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