Knights Hold On For Win
By Blake Beldon
Aug 30, 2013, 07:47
Blake Beldon/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
CHESTER — What began looking like a blowout turned into a competitive, defensive showdown in what became Thomas Dale’s 21-14 home field victory over the Cosby Titans in their season-opener on Thursday night.
The Knights scored all three of their touchdowns within the first 21 minutes of game play (reaching their last season game score average of 20.3 points in the first half alone) while simultaneously rendering the opposing Titans scoreless.
However, a pass to Cosby senior running back Killian Carey for a more than 30 yard touchdown run down the right sideline quickly put a damper on Thomas Dale’s commanding lead with less than four minutes left in the first half.
Then, early on in the third quarter, senior wide receiver for the Titans, Tyler Fitzgerald, caught a deep end zone pass for touchdown from quarterback Aaron Parker to capitalize on what was a risky fourth down and 21 yard attempt.
Swiftly followed by a two-point conversion catch by sophomore tight end Drew Birchmeier, the score became 21-14 and there it stayed through the end of the game in what became a fierce defensive standoff with a one possession margin presiding over each team’s fate. Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker said his team started strong and finished strong, but allowed for Cosby to make a forceful comeback effort in the middle that deserves respect.
“I give them credit. They made some great adjustments on defense and they caused our offense to have to adjust. The first half we were dictating what we were going to do to them. The second half they made some great adjustments so in the fourth quarter we had to readjust and go back at them with a little more power football and...it was tough, but we dug deep and we got it,” Tucker said.
The Knights offense was emboldened by a 240 total rushing yards off of 45 rushes compared to a meager total 63 passing yards on eight throws, a statistic influenced by their starting quarterback leaving the game due to muscle cramps.
Senior running back Eric Finney was responsible for more than half of the rushing yards, finishing with a massive 141 yards off of 21 carries, 122 of which were in the first half. Seniors Justin Cooper and Jordan Rawls followed in suit earning a respective 63 and 24 rushing yards off of eight carries each.
Ultimately, it became Thomas Dale’s defensive virtues in the second half that denied Cosby the opportunity to tie the score and win the game. The Knights single-handedly racked up a combined 33 tackles between four players: C.J. Reavis (11), Marco Carrabotta (8), Darvin Taylor (7) and Raun Hall (7).
Cosby came very close to a potential game-tying touchdown run towards the end of the fourth quarter. Having advanced to first down and goal at the three yard line, Thomas Dale initiated a no gain defensive stop. The Titans then committed a false start to bring them back to the eight yard line. With the timer inching down, and less than ten yards to cover, Parker launched a pass towards the right end zone intended for receiver Michael Kokal which was incomplete.
On third down, Sam Stark for Thomas Dale helped force a tackle to close the door even further on the Titans shot at victory. With seven yards to go on fourth down, Cosby went for it, but the Knights defense forced an incomplete pass right at the goal line.
Tucker said there is a major element that needs to be retained from his team’s style on Thursday night as well as a huge improvement that needs to be made.
“We need to keep from this game that [idea to] never give up, never quit no matter what adversity you’re facing and what we need to take forward from this game is that we have to have our backups ready,” Tucker said. “We threw some backups in there and they struggled a little bit...we’ve got to get those guys together and make sure they’re ready to go.”
The season continues next week on September 6, where Thomas Dale will travel to L.C. Bird and Cosby faces Matoaca at home.
L.C. Bird is a perennial power-houses and the Knights can prove their worth by picking up a crucial victory in the coming week. However, more importanly, the Knights will have key experience for later in the season.