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Knights win big to even record

October 09, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - The Middletown Knights are at .500 for the first time and still have a chance to show their armor in the second half of the football season, which could lead to bigger and better things.

Following a 38-6 demolishing of South Carroll on Friday night, the Knights improved to 2-1 in the MVAL Piedmont Conference and 3-3 overall and still have an outside shot at the fourth spot in the Class 2A West playoffs.

With things in perspective, Middletown coach Tim Ambrose will take things in stride as the Knights work on returning to health and getting ready for a stretch run that includes Francis Scott Key and rival Walkersville.

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If it weren't for some early-season experience gained by senior Jeff O'Clair, the Knights might have been in trouble as junior QB Frank Starnes suffered a mid-week injury that left him in street clothes.

Starnes missed the preseason and first two weeks of the regular season with a patella strain in his left knee and O'Clair gained experience in those games. Starnes returned for the next three weeks, but injured what Ambrose believes is a ligament in the same knee during school activities Wednesday and will likely be out of action "for quite awhile," Ambrose said.

"I told Jeff to not do anything stupid ... don't put anything on the ground and let someone else be the star," Ambrose said. "His experience from earlier in the season was invaluable."

He was on the money with his directive as O'Clair guided an offense that was crisp and did not commit any turnovers.

The Middletown defense was superb and Wes Leatherman took charge offensively with 137 yards rushing on 22 tries and a pair of scores. Overall, the Knights netted 246 yards rushing on 48 efforts.

South Carroll (1-5, 1-2) was held to 93 yards rushing on 27 carries, and 82 yards came on one run by Steve Frye that set up the Cavs' lone score in the third period. Otherwise, that's 11 net yards on 26 other tries.

"(Leatherman) is healthy and we're getting other people back," Ambrose said. "And, we're not playing teams that are unbeaten when we are hurting."

Seth Delauter booted a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 Knights lead early in the opening period. Jurius Eyler then put an electrical surge through the Middletown crowd when he returned a South Carroll punt 65 yards for a 9-0 lead with 6:16 to play.

After another defensive hold by Middletown, the Knights' offense went on a sustained ground attack that ended with Leatherman's 3-yard burst on the final play of the first quarter.

A South Carroll penalty on a Middletown fair catch gave the Knights a short field at the 50 and Parker Lumley made his presence felt with a 15-yard run that helped set up his own 25-yard gallop with some fancy cuts through the Cavaliers defense.

Leatherman scored on a 1-yard run in the third period when Middletown controlled the first seven minutes, thanks in part to a muffed South Carroll punt. Leatherman keyed the drive with runs of 15 and 12 yards.

Lumley capped the scoring with a 2-yard run early in the fourth period to finish off his 57-yard game.

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