Not everything went right for Evans High School in its season opener Friday night, but compared to last year it seemed perfect.
The Knights started the 2006 season in the win column with a 21-16 victory over Harlem High School. The win came in front of a home crowd that saw Evans go 0-5 at John Pierce Blanchard Stadium last year. This year, the Knights offense looked well-prepared and versatile.
"I've got some good assistant coaches that did a great job of getting these boys ready," Evans head coach Marty Jackson said. "My coaching staff did a great job."
Jackson added several assistant coaches this year, and the results came as soon as the Knights stepped onto the field. Harlem got the ball for the first possession of the game but didn't keep it for long.
A Bulldog fumble in the first minute was picked up by Evans' Jacob Gibbs inside the Harlem 20-yard line. Knights quarterback Kevin Millward capitalized three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown dive for a 7-0 lead.
After Harlem's Barry St. John tied the game on a 2-yard dive later in the first quarter, Millward finished off a dominant 13-play, 71-yard scoring drive with another 1-yard touchdown run. The drive spanned two quarters, lasted more than seven minutes and saw Evans run the ball nine times and pass four times.
"We were trying to gradually go down the field for four or five yards at a time, but our offensive line opened some holes and gave me all the time in the world," Millward said.
After Harlem's Kenji Link nailed a 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter, Evans took a 14-10 lead at halftime.
The Knights distanced themselves further in the second half with a Gibbs 3-yard touchdown run. Harlem took advantage of an Evans fumble early in the fourth quarter and began a drive on the Knights' 27-yard line. Harlem's St. John needed only two plays to find the end zone and bring Harlem within five points.
That's as close as the Bulldogs got as Evans' Kyle Golden saved the game by knocking down a Harlem pass on fourth-and-five inside Evans' 15-yard line to kill the Bulldogs' drive and give Evans a win.
"Coach told us to watch out for the screen pass," Golden said. "I saw a man go in motion out there so I crept up a little bit and then it came right out to the flat. I was able to jump up and knock it down."
Millward, with a grin from ear-to-ear behind a dirtied face mask, took a knee twice to run out the clock.
"Everybody's up about Evans football now," Millward said. "This was almost as good as last year's win against Lakeside."
The Knights will enjoy a bye week Friday before facing the Panthers next weekend at Lakeside Stadium. The Bulldogs travel to Lincolnton, Ga., to face the defending Class A state champion Lincoln County Red Devils.
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