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ALBRIGHT: Doddridge County’s Dylan Knight took center stage in win over Ritchie County

Doddridge County’s offense fired on all cylinders in a 29-26 2OT win over the Ritchie County Rebels Friday at Cline Stansberry Stadium.

Everything largely going according to plan. The offensive line did its job. Receivers caught the rare passes when asked and quarterback Jared Jones handled his read-option duties with aplomb.

Stealing the show, however, was running back Dylan Knight. The senior grabbed the spotlight, took it, then ran and hid with it, thus bringing flashbacks of former Doddridge County rusher Hunter America, all while being a pain in his visitors’ side.

America, of course, became well known for his hard-nosed running style during his time as a Bulldog.

No one defender ever bringing him down. Instead, two or three players were needed as America usually ran right over the first one.

That’s exactly the kind of attitude which Knight used in attacking his duties. Tasked with helping keep a potent Ritchie County offense off the field, the senior performed his role to perfection. Defenders couldn’t succeed in bringing him down before he picked up positive yards. Heck, it took until the second overtime before the Rebels dropped him for negative yardage.

“What I saw from him was that he just ran with great heart and he did a very good job with gaining yards after contact. There was no huge run, but he didn’t put the ball on the ground at all. He was in a rhythm and just took what was there,” Doddridge County head coach Bobby Burnside said. Exactly.

Now, we could talk about the offensive line all we want and heap a lot of praise on them. They deserve a huge part of the credit. No runner can do what they do without the help of a great trench unit.

But, it wasn’t their pounding and punishing running right at the heart of the Rebels defense that left defenders dejected after nearly every play. Knight, essentially, demoralized Rick Haught’s group by keeping his legs moving after first contact. There was no easy way to bring him down.

When it was all said and done, he picked up 138 yards on 32 carries. Some of those yards were of the run-right-into-the-offensive-line variety, while others were the hit-a-defender-and-take-him-with-you variety. “He was wearing on them all night long,” said Burnside.

Indeed.

His hard running started on the first drive and never let up until the end of the game. To put that in perspective, during the game’s winning drive, Knight carried the rock five times picking up 14 of the needed yards to get John Devinney in field goal range.

“It speaks a lot about Dylan’s drive. You know when he is feeling it. We checked a few times and he said he was all good. He might have had the biggest play of the game. That last carry before Jones centered the ball for the kick, Austin Bartlett nailed Dylan in the backfield and he held onto the football,” Burnside said.

That is more impressive considering how much Knight was asked to lead the Bulldogs on their first two scoring drives. Of the 18 ran plays, he picked up 76 of the available 133 yards, or roughly half. Not to mention, he had the power to plow in from two yards out that gave Doddridge an early 14-0 lead in the second quarter, after all the running.

But, his contributions didn’t stop there.

Right after his defense managed a fourth down stop early in the fourth quarter, the momentum sat ripe for the taking. The Bulldogs just needed to grab it. Again, Knight came up huge. On first and goal from the five-yard line, he powered through the middle of the line, plunging into the end zone.

Obviously, he finished his night in a positive way on the final drive of the game.

“I would say it would be really tough to get that game without Dylan giving us what he gave us. His contribution was critical and obviously he played the entire night on defense and special teams, but his running really made a huge difference,” Burnside said.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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