Smyrna falls to Sussex Central in state football tournament

Kevin Tresolini
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Their first match-up seemed to corner the market on late-game drama. In the wild regular-season game at Sussex Central Nov. 6, the Smyrna High football team scored twice in the final 5:10, including the winning TD with :42 left, to prevail 34-28.

Sussex Central reversed that outcome with an even more rousing 38-34 finish in Friday’s postseason rematch in the semifinals of the Division I state tournament.

Central’s Zimir Gardner floated a pass to the right corner of the end zone on a third-and-10 from the 15-yard line and Chase Boyle used his 6-foot-2 height and reach to haul it in for the touchdown.

There were 5.3 seconds left on the clock at Charles V. Williams Stadium, and Sussex Central secured a victory over Henlopen North rival and previously unbeaten Smyrna.

Smyrna's Wayne Knight rushes the football in the second half of Sussex Central's 38-34 win in a DIAA Division I state tournament semifinal at Smyrna High School Friday, Dec. 11.

No. 1-seeded Smyrna, which trailed by 14 in the first quarter and 12 early in the fourth, had taken its first lead when Aidan Sanchez lofted a 28-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 1:54 left.

Fourth-seeded Sussex Central then moved 76 yards on 13 plays, including a second-down pass-interference call that put the Golden Knights at the Smyrna 15, to score the winning touchdown.

Sanchez ran 14 yards for a touchdown with 6:30 left and threw to Jermaine Earl for two points to get Smyrna within 32-28. A fourth-and-1 stop of Stratton by the Smyrna defense at midfield set the stage for the Eagles’ go-ahead touchdown before Central’s dramatic score.

Sanchez completed 16 of 24 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 60 yards and a score.

Along with Sanchez and Smith, Eagles who scored touchdowns were Jermaine Earl on a 15-yard pass from Sanchez; Wayne Knight on a four-yard run and Dominick Galban on a four-yard run.

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