DOVER A howling nor’easter postponed the game for a day, brought endless wind and occasional rain and held down the crowd.
But nothing could stop Smyrna’s Will Knight.
The sophomore running back ran through, over and around the Dover defense, especially around the goal line. He finished with five touchdowns and five two-point runs as the Eagles romped 40-14 in their Henlopen North opener Saturday night at Dover Stadium.
Knight ran 33 times for 250 yards, completed a pass for 13 yards, caught two passes for 17 yards and scored all of the points for fourth-ranked Smyrna (3-1, 1-0).
“Will carried the load,” Eagles coach Mike Judy said. “He’s a special young man.”
Knight was at his best on two-point conversions, taking a direct shotgun snap behind a tight formation and bulling his way across the goal line all five times.
“Hard work and dedication,” the sophomore said. “I give it to my linemen. I can’t think about myself. … I know they will do their job.”
Knight went right to work on the first drive of the game, carrying on seven of Smyrna’s 10 plays. Nolan Henderson added a 26-yard pass to Brandon Bishop, and Knight took it in from the 1 and added the two-pointer for an 8-0 lead.
The eighth-ranked Senators (2-2, 0-1) also showed some running strength on their first possession. Jerry Warren went left for gains of 18 and 22 yards, then went right for a 1-yard score. But the two-point pass attempt failed, leaving Smyrna with an 8-6 lead.
Henderson fired it up on the Eagles’ next scoring drive, completing a 45-yard bomb to Bishop to the Dover 18. Three more Knight runs covered the rest of the distance, including a 1-yard plunge for the TD.
“I thought it was a good game for us,” Knight said. “The wind doesn’t affect us.”
The wind certainly didn’t bother Knight on his next touchdown, as he broke three tackles and made another man miss on his way to a 68-yard score.
After a Dover punt, Henderson threw 28 yards to Donte Ritchie and 14 yards to Charlie Taylor to move the Eagles to the Dover 16. Knight took it from there, gaining 4, then 3, then the final 9. His fourth two-point run made it 32-6 with 1:26 left in the first half.
Smyrna’s offense has been firing on all cylinders all season, but the defense was decimated in a 76-56 loss to Salesianum last week. The Eagles allowed Colby Reeder to rush for 408 yards and gave up 701 total yards in that game, but the ‘D’ was much better against Dover.
Smyrna held the Senators to just 100 total yards — 50 rushing, 50 passing — including minus-8 in the second half.
“I thought our defensive coordinator, Dan Wagner, did a fantastic job with the kids,” Judy said. “We worked on things that were missing last week, like tackling, alignment.”
Dover’s only second-half score came on special teams, as Melvin Jackson picked up a bouncing punt and took it 38 yards for a touchdown. That was quickly offset by Knight’s fifth TD — a 2-yard plunge — and his fifth two-pointer.
The rain held off most of the night, so even though the Eagles ran 39 times for 296 yards, they also completed 15 of 24 passes for another 184.
“We were planning for the worst weather that we possibly could play in,” Judy said. “Then we were blessed with only having a windy night. That allowed us to get the ball in the air a little more.”
Contact Brad Myers at [email protected] . Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ