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Streaking Knights drill Rams, 47-20

Posted: October 8, 2018 4:16 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

KALAB HAVEN RUSHED for 88 yards and two TDs in North Central’s win at Chesterfield on Friday.

Nothing takes the air out of a homecoming celebration quicker than the visitor scoring the first 20 points of the game.

That was the recipe North Central followed in improving to 3-0 in Region 4-AA play with a 47-20 thumping of host Chesterfield Friday night. The win was the third straight for the Knights who improved to 5-2 on the season heading into Friday’s home pairing with Lee Central.

The die was cast in this game on the first series as the Knights took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with a 19-yard Avante’ Reynolds to Markell Portee pass capping the drive with Hunter Haven tacking on the PAT kick to give the guests a quick 7-0 lead.

“I think it was very important,” said second-year NC head coach Tyronne Drakeford as to his team getting the early advantage. “It was their homecoming and we knew they would come out excited and be ready to go. 

“By our taking the ball first, we knew we needed to score and our guys took the ball down the field and did that. That kind of killed their momentum. Then, our defense went out there and played exceptionally well. It was very important for us to go out there and start fast in the first half like we did.”

The NC defense, which forced five Chesterfield turnovers, turned one into six points as on the first play of the second quarter, Esteban Rodriguez stepped in front of a Golden Ram pass and returned it for a 53-yard pick six and a 13-0 lead. Some six minutes later, the Knights hiked their advantage to 20-0 at halftime when Haven pulled down a 48-yard scoring pass from Reynolds, who was back behind center after Austin Bowers was forced to sit out the game while in concussion protocol.

“We were able to start out and get good yardage with the run early in the game,” Drakeford said. “Then, when they started to stack the box, we were able to complete a few passes with Avante’ rolling out. We had a little trouble throwing the ball in the pocket. Once we got them outside the pocket, we were able to complete a good percentage of our passes.”

The Knights missed another first half scoring chance when they recovered an onside kick but were unable to cash in on the opportunity.

After being blanked in the first 24 minutes, the Rams changed their offensive scheme to open the second half and with wide out Shyheim Rivers at quarterback, scored on a 28-yard keeper to cut the lead to 20-7. “They changed their offense and changed quarterbacks to start the second half and they were running a lot of the wildcat formation on that first drive. After that, we settled down and were able to control things,” Drakeford said.

The NC offense got cranked back up after the first CHS touchdown and answered with a 40-yard touchdown jaunt from Jamel Jones to make it 27-7. With some five minutes left in the third, NC scored on a 34-yard pass to trim the deficit to 27-13.

Before the third quarter ended, NC struck again. This time, Kalab Haven capped a drive with a three-yard scoring run. The sophomore running back would open the fourth quarter with his second touchdown carry; this from five yards out to make it 40-13.

Jones scored his second touchdown, this a 38-yard dash, midway in the final stanza before the hosts closed the scoring with a late-game touchdown.

The Knights ran for 274 yards with Jones going for 100 yards on seven carries while Kalab Haven added 88 on 11. Sentrell Davis-Warren added another 86 yards on 14 hauls.

Reynolds was six-of-nine passing for 127 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses with Hunter Haven having three grabs for 95 yards while Portee had three for 32 as the visitors piled up 401 yards in offense behind an improving front line.

“We’re starting to jell,” Drakeford said. “The offensive line is starting to pick up some of these twists that are coming at them from the pass rushers. The guys are communicating, which is big. Before, we were hoping that the other people would make the play. Now, the communication has gotten 100 percent better and guys are starting to feel comfortable with what they are doing and carrying out their assignment correctly.”

Defensively, Chesterfield turned the ball over five times against an aggressive NC defensive unit which was bent on making the Golden Rams one-dimensional.

 “They wanted to pass and we had a really good game plan. We knew what they were going to come out and do,” Drakeford said. “We knew we had to stop the pass and make them run the ball because we knew that our front seven would be able to stop the run. We challenged the defensive backs to make plays and they did all through the night.

“Our thing is to keep opponent under 250 yards for the game. If we can do that, we feel we give ourselves a chance to win and we want to win the turnover battle. We did that with five turnovers and took one of those for a touchdown.”

With a game with 1-1 Lee Central up next, the Knights are a half-game behind Buford (4-0) in the race for the 4-AA title. Should the Knights defeat Lee Central and then take care of business the following week against winless Lewisville, it would set up a championship battle in Buford Oct. 26.

For now, Drakeford said his main concern is getting ready for the Stallions this week and staying on a roll.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We don’t want to get too high. We want the guys to stay focused because we haven’t achieved anything, yet. 

“The goal is to win the region so we’ll keep plugging away and stay on the same path that we’ve been going down. Hopefully, we’ll keep getting better every week.”

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