Playing in its season opener at Harlem, the Evans Knights needed a quarter to warm up Friday night. That didn't keep them from marching to a 21-7 victory.
Two fumbles and a pair of drives that ended in turnovers on downs got the Knights off to a bad start with their first four possessions, but a strong defense also kept the home Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
Once the Knights got past those early mistakes, there was little Harlem could do to stop them.
"Evans took it to us and just beat us in the second half," Harlem football coach Jimmie Lewis said. "The inexperience cost us a bit, but Evans is a pretty good football team. They've got speed and good coaches. They're going to have a good year."
Senior quarterback Kevin Millward jump-started the Knights' offense with a strong air attack in the second half. Millward completed passes to four receivers in the third and fourth quarters. His two fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 33 and 20 yards to senior David Smith made the difference in the game.
"We made good decisions throwing the ball," Jackson said. "We looked pretty strong in the fourth quarter."
The lone setback for Evans in the fourth quarter came with just under nine minutes left. The Knights had a six-point lead and threatened to tack on another touchdown with first and goal on the Harlem 10. Senior Joseph Saldana took the ball down inside the 1-yard line, but Harlem's defense held on a fourth-and-goal quarterback keeper to force a turnover on downs.
It was a play that might have spelled devastation for the Knights in the past.
"The last couple of years when we make mistakes I might have seen some of the guys with their heads hanging down," Jackson said. "It never crossed our minds tonight. We've just got to keep improving."
Evans responded with another Smith touchdown reception on their next possession. The score gave the Knights a two-touchdown lead that held the rest of the way.
Evans gets this Friday off with an early bye week. Jackson said they plan on practicing all week and attending the Greenbrier-Lakeside game Friday night. The two region rivals happen to be Evans' next two opponents.
"We needed (the bye)," Jackson said. "We'll practice hard and then go do some scouting."
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