KC Eagles Rally For Tri-Rivers Gridiron Win
By David Sharp
Knox County was able to limit a strong Schuyler County start to an August 31, Tri-Rivers Conference varsity football opener for both teams and post a 34-25 victory. The Rams dominated the first quarter and the beginning portion of period two before Knox County was able to get their attack untracked. The Eagles made plays to win the football game and competed very well all night long.
Zach Parrish led Knox County with 21 carries for 221 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Schuyler County held a 16-14 advantage in first downs. Knox County wound up with a 290-253 advantage in net yards from scrimmage unofficially.
This was a very entertaining contest for a large crowd present at Ella Campbell Field. Dennis Dent got the ball rolling in the Eagles’ direction when he picked off a Tim Gorman pass and raced 30 yards for a touchdown. Cameron Kirmse’s extra point gave Knox County a seven point edge at the 10:58 mark of period one.
Schuyler County employs one of the larger line corps in the conference. The Rams took it to the lighter, but possibly more athletic Eagle front most of the first half. The Rams drove from their 27 yard line deep into KCHS territory on their next possession.
Tristan Lonberger recorded an interception, stalling the Ram drive on the Knox County ten yard line. Schuyler County’s defense gave Knox County no room to run and forced a punt from the Eagle end zone. Good Ram defensive play kept the football in Knox County territory much of the first half. Drives started o the Knox County side of mid field from the third thru ninth series of first half downs.
Schuyler County cashed in on their defensive stand when Jacob Winkler capped a 40 yard drive with a leaping touchdown reception from Tim Gorman with 4:09 to play in the first quarter. Greg Buckallew kicked the extra point, tying the score at seven.
An errant pass from KC starting quarterback Cody Morgenstern wound up in the waiting arms of Ram defender Trevor Beeler, setting Schuyler County up on the KC 35 yard line. Knox County’s defense rose and kept the game tied.
Knox County could not move the ball and punted from their end zone a second time in the first half. Christian Cunningham sacked Keenan Gillaspy, who came in at quarterback and played the remainder of the contest at quarterback. Cunningham was one of several Schuyler County players turning in a very inspired performance.
Schuyler County took the football on the Knox County 31 and stuck the ball in the end zone. Tim Gorman executed a one yard quarterback sneak at the 9:15 mark of period two. Schuyler County missed the extra point. The Ram’s inability to convert points after touchdown came back to haunt them late in the contest.
Knox County had yet to record their inaugural first down of the 2007 season on offense at that point in the proceeding. Schuyler County continued the trend when they forced a three and out. Lucus Hudson got the Eagles out of a hole with a nice punt to the Ram 37 yard line with no return.
Schuyler County set sail for the end zone and capped a 63 yard drive with Jacob Winkler out jumped the KCHS secondary for a nine yard scoring strike from Tim Gorman at the 7:38 mark of the second quarter. The two point conversion was no good and the Rams held a 19-7 lead.
Knox County took possession on their 35 yard line. Zach Parrish broke tackles and struggled for the Eagles opening first down at the 7:06 mark of the first quarter on a ten yard run. Momentum began to shift the home team’s way as the Eagles drove down the field.
Zach Parrish raced around end for an eight yard touchdown run at the 3:57 mark of the second quarter. A fake kick did not fool the Ram defense and the score remained 19-13 in favor of Schuyler County.
Knox County’s inspired defense wrested the football back via the punt at the 1:38 mark of the second quarter. The Eagles executed a hook and lateral play that took the ball deep into Ram territory as time ran down.
The Eagles wound up with the football on the Schuyler County one yard line with one second remaining in the first half and no timeouts. The clock was set to start when the officials marked the ball. The Eagles tried to spike the football in order to stop the clock.
The officials ruled a dead ball illegal procedure infraction on Knox County. That moved the ball back to the Ram six yard line. Schuyler County was flagged for an off side penalty on the next snap. There was no time left on the clock.
Since a half cannot end on a defensive penalty, Knox County had one untimed down from the one yard line. Knox County executed a play action pass from Keenan Gillaspy to Zach Parrish in the right flat. Parrish dove into the corner of the end zone, setting the Knox County fans crazy and giving the Eagles a 20-19 lead.
The two point run failed and Knox County sailed into the dressing room with a 20-19 lead. “Tonight we turned ourselves around,” said KCHS senior Zach Parrish. “We are going to be a new team this year. We would have turned our heads in the past after we got down and that would have been it.”
“We scored on the one yard pass and came back from being down a couple of scores,” said Parrish. “There were a lot of momentum changes.” Schuyler County held a 155-93 edge in first half total yards. Turnovers continued to be part of the story line.
Knox County received the second half opening kickoff. A nice kickoff return to the Eagle 41 yard line was negated when Schuyler County recovered a fumble. The Rams stuck the ball into the end zone again on a Blake Watson run with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter. Lucus Hudson blocked the point after kick limiting the Rams to a 25-20 lead.
It did not take the Eagles long to answer. Knox County executed a draw play that fooled much of the gathering. Zach Parrish darted out of the pile with the football and raced 65 yards on the first play of the games’ 15th possession for a Knox County touchdown.
Cameron Kirmse took a direct snap and passed the ball to a wide open Dennis Dent for the two point conversion with 7:15 showing on the third quarter clock. The Eagles reclaimed the lead at 28-25.
Schuyler County mounted a drive from their 35 yard line. Tim Gorman had a great varsity debut, passing for an unofficial 183 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman quarterback also ran 11 times for a team leading 35 yards and a touchdown.
Damion Howard made a great catch for a 31 yard Schuyler County gain. The drive was punctuated by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Knox County after a quarterback sack. The Eagles were whistled for a pass interference penalty as well.
Knox County wound up with 13 penalties for 100 yards. Schuyler Count did not fare much better with ten penalties for 100 yards. The Rams were flagged for offensive pass interference helping force a punt. The Eagles took the football on their nine yard line.
Zach Parrish helped get the Eagles out of the hole with a 50 yard sprint from scrimmage. Schuyler County wrested the ball back on downs at their 41 yard line. Knox County turned in another determined defensive stand, pushing the Ram line backwards.
Lucus Hudson made another play for the Eagles when he flew in on a punt play. Ram punter Greg Buckallew took a hard hit from Hudson, who did not wrap up on the play and bring the Ram’s starting fullback down.
Buckallew raced toward the first down stick but was knocked out of bounds at the marker. A measurement gave the Eagles the ball on the Ram 42 by inches.
Zach Parrish scored on a 13 yard run at the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter. The two point conversion failed and Knox County held a 34-25 lead. Parrish stepped up and intercepted a Schuyler County pass late in the contest.
Knox County played better and with more confidence as the game went on. The Rams have potent offensive weapons and size up front. The Eagles next varsity football game is at home with Scotland County (0-1). Knox County defends the Clyde Trophy for the first time. The Eagles need this win to keep their momentum going and possibly challenge for an upper division slot in the conference standings.
“We were right there,” said Schuyler County coach Jason Melnick. “We get up 19-7 and didn’t score a two point conversion. I felt like if we had scored that we would have been in a much better position. We let them coast around and they came back,”
“They get that touchdown with one second in the first half,” said Melnick. “We just made too many mental mistakes. We had too many penalties in the second half. We were still right there in the game. (Zach) Parrish finally got loose and was able to score a lot of rushing yards against us.”
Jacob Winkler had two touchdown receptions and 34 receiving yards for Schuyler County. The Rams were 15-26 with three interceptions for 183 yards in the air. Knox County was 10-21 overall in the passing category good for 62 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Gillaspy was 10-18 for 62 yards passing and a touchdown.
Zach Parrish had three receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown. Lucus Hudson caught six balls for 15 yards. Dennis Dent had a 21 yard reception.
“We wanted to show everybody in this crowd and in this county that we are a new football team,” said senior Ethan Hustead. “ We want to play with heart. We made a lot of mistakes. Once we got those worked out we went out and played our game. We are just as physically strong as any team around. We have the speed to get off the ball.”
“We have so many weapons behind the ball,” said Ethan Hustead. “Once we make the holes they make our jobs easy. We take every game as if it was a trophy game. We are excited that we won, but now the focus is on Scotland County. We have to go at them like they were state champions last year and move forward,”
“We had turnovers and penalties but we never folded or gave up heart,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer. “We kept fighting and clawing. They came out at us. Dennis Dent had that nice little pick for a touchdown. Once we got off the ball it got better.”
“We spread it out against them and used our speed. They have one of the biggest lines in the conference,” said Coach Ramer. “We need to work on our strength game and make adjustments. We need to be able to run the ball. All of the (mistakes) that we did are fixable things.”
Knox County had 27 carries for 229 yards while limiting the Rams to 70 yards on 39 rushing attempts. “We are learning how to win. We are learning how to control emotions when making a big play. If that will come while we still get victories that will be great.”
“We played well once we figured things out,” said Ramer. “Coming back with those two touchdowns late in the second half were big. We fought and scrapped back when we were beating ourselves. A lot of things didn’t go right tonight. When you have all those mistakes and penalties…that’s how you learn how to win.”