Steward’s 4th-quarter TD thwarts Parkside’s shutout bid

WORTON — The Trojans head to Cambridge-South Dorchester High School on Friday night (Sept. 29) hoping to halt a four-game losing streak and to score more than the six points a game they have averaged.

That’s a heavy lift for any team, but magnified by the history between Kent and C-SD. They are not friendly rivals, and Vikings Stadium — for the Trojans at least — is akin to hostile territory.

The last time Kent defeated Cambridge was in 2016 at Cambridge, in the Class 1A East Region final, 28-22, to apply the brakes to a 25-game losing streak in the series that included a 28-0 spanking in the 1996 state championship game.

In 2016, the Trojans had more than their fair share of hardship — player suspensions in back-to-back games to open the season, a litany of injuries and demoralizing defeats.

Kent’s starting quarterback suffered a season-ending injury in the second half of the homecoming game Oct. 1.

A lot of adjustments had to be made to get the most out of a modest 35-man roster.

Kent finished the regular season at 5-5,  squeaked in as the fourth seed in a four-team region tournament, and was made to travel for the playoffs.

So … anything is possible.

But the 2023 Trojans will have to play better than they have, head coach Harold Somerville acknowledged.

Somerville said it’s difficult to find the positives in the Trojans’ 0-4 start. Obviously they can’t score — not more than a touchdown per game, so far — and their tackling is suspect.

Kent’s second-year head coach said his squad has been consistently inconsistent.

And, said Somerville, “their confidence level is low.”

The solution, he said matter-of-factly, is “we just need to have a made-up mind that we are going to play aggressive football and win.”

Kent is coming off an old-fashioned beating, 55-6, to previously winless Parkside last week in Trojan Stadium.

The Rams (1-3) led 14-0 after the first quarter and 35-0 at intermission.

Kent’s best scoring chance of the first half came early in the second quarter. 

Running along the Kent sideline, Taoin Johnson returned a punt to the Parkside 5, where he was pulled down when he tried to cut to the inside.

On first-and-goal, freshman quarterback Dwan Harris bulldozed his way up the middle for a gain of 2 yards. On second down Harris was tackled in the backfield for a loss. On third and fourth downs, Harris threw incomplete passes to Jonah Somerville and Johnson, respectively, on flat route plays.

Kent turned over the ball on downs on the Parkside 7 with 7 minutes, 36 seconds to go.

Parkside scored on the ensuing possession, despite being flagged for a block in the back and holding, when Kerontez Bratten scampered in from the Kent 15 with just inside four minutes remaining in the half.

Rocco Tulley’s point-after kick was good and the Rams extended their lead to 28-0.

Parkside scored once more before heading into the locker room at the break — Cameron Johnson’s catch-and-run from the 19 and Tulley’s PAT.

The second half was played with a running clock.

Having benched some of its starters, including its quarterback, running backs and wide receiver, Parkside extended its lead to 48-0 with three minutes and change remaining in the third quarter.

Kent scored on its next possession when Larry Steward reached up and over defensive back Dustin Brown for a touchdown grab at the goal line with 8:01 to play.

The try for two, Jonah Somerville on a run, failed.

The Trojans’ scoring drive started on their own 40 on the final play of the third quarter.

Harris opened the final frame with three successive first down passes to JySir Valentine, to the 50, the 39 and then the 27 before finding Steward with the scoring strike.

Parkside didn’t waste any time nullifying the Kent score as Elijah Donaldson returned the ensuing squib kick 60 yards for a touchdown. 

On the next series, the Trojans moved the sticks all the way to the Rams’ 1-yard line before Harris was intercepted.

Trice Moore made a touchdown-saving tackle at the Parkside 45; time expired before the Rams crossed midfield.

After Friday’s game at Cambridge, the Trojans close out the regular season with two home games and two games on the road. 

Kent is here Oct. 6 against Queen Anne’s and Oct. 27 for homecoming against Snow Hill. Home games kick off at 6:30 p.m.

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