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Eagles Race Past Hornets
By David Sharp
Knox County rolled up 402 rushing yards and limited a youthful Westran Hornet team to five first downs and 130 yards from scrimmage on the way to a 44-0 victory at Huntsville. Lucus Hudson set two career milestones with three touchdowns and led all ground gainers with 158 yards on only nine carries.
Zach Parrish picked up 143 yards on 17 attempts and scored two touchdowns. Cody Morgenstern may have set a new single game state record when he took an interception the length of the field for a touchdown with 56 seconds remaining in the game.
The current MSHSAA record for longest interception return is 100 yards, held jointly by 12 players. Morgenstern picked off a Tyler Hunt pass on the goal line or a yard or two into the end zone. Videotape will be reviewed for an exact spot.
Knox County dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football most of the game. The Eagles recorded five quarterback sacks in the first half alone.
Lucus Hudson sacked Tyler Hunt on the Hornet’s first offensive series, forcing a punt. Hudson raced 30 yards on a reverse for the first points of the contest at the 7:21 mark of the first quarter. Knox County did a good job on conversions. The lone miss was on a bad snap from center after the first touchdown.
Knox County’s defense throttled the young Hornets again defensively. Westran did a good job of selling a possible fourth down gamble. Tyler Hunt punted the football to the Eagle 11 yard line.
Knox County converted the poor field position into more yards gained when Lucus Hudson raced 78 yards to the end zone at the 1:38 mark of the first quarter. Keenan Gillaspy passed to Dennis Dent for the two point conversion lifting the Eagles to a 14-0 lead.
The Eagles showed future opponents they would take chances. Knox County tried an on side kick. Chad Sapp found the football in his chest on a high bounce and raced to the Eagle 16 yard line. Zach Parrish saved a touchdown with a nice open field tackle.
Lucus Hudson penetrated the shotgun spread offense and sacked quarterback Tyler Hunt a second time. Westran converted a fourth and 15 pass to the Eagle five yard line.
The Hornets harmed their chances of scoring with two five yard penalties. John Greenley and David Hinkle recorded sacks. Zach Parrish intercepted a pass and returned the football to the Eagle 37 yard line.
Westran stepped up and stopped Knox County on downs. The Hornets had good field position on the KCHS 40 yard line. Jeremy Hudson sacked the quarterback for a three yard loss, helping Knox County’s defense to stop the Hornets on downs.
Knox County got the ball back on their 25 yard line with 7:47 remaining in the first half. The Eagles blocked very well on the 75 yard touchdown drive. Zach Parrish raced 45 yards to the house with 5:35 showing on the second quarter clock. Dennis Dent ran in the two point conversion for a 22-0 lead.
The final 5:30 of the first half had plenty of action. Knox County stopped the Hornets, getting the ball back after a punt at the 3:20 mark. Knox County drove to the red zone.
Zach Parrish saw a halfback option pass intercepted by freshman linebacker Matt George on the Hornet three yard line. The Eagles stopped Westran and forced another punt near the close of the first half. Zach Parrish raced 20 yards with a punt return, but the half ended with Knox County on top by a 22-0 margin.
The Eagles held a 231-23 rushing advantage at intermission. Knox County had nine unofficial first downs to three for the Hornets at the half.
“You have to give Knox County a lot of credit,” said Westran first year head football coach Curtis Jasper. “They are physical. They have very fit kids. Obviously they have been in the weight room. That gave us a lot of problems being so young.”
“I wish I had a dollar for every time we have been in the red zone,” said Jasper. “That is just youth. It takes time to learn to execute the spread offense. I have great kids and I am proud of them.”
Knox County continued their domination during the third quarter. The Eagles scored on their first two possessions of the second half. Zach Parrish capped a 49 yard drive with a 17 yard touchdown run at the 9:30 mark of the third quarter. Keenan Gillaspy ran in the two point conversion for a 30 point lead.
The Eagle defense stopped the home team on downs again. Knox County employed a power offense and rolled to the Hornet three yard line. Ethan Hustead and Jacob Moots had rushing attempts. Moots had five rushes for 25 yards and Hustead carried twice for eight yards.
Lucus Hudson had a hard nosed run during the drive. Hudson scored his third touchdown of the game on a three yard run with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Cameron Kirmse’s kick gave Knox County a 37-0 lead.
Knox County began to substitute their younger players. The Eagles forced a punt on the next Westran series. Knox County put their JV offense into the game. Westran stopped the Eagles on downs and took the football on their 37 yard line with 6:40 showing on the continuous clock.
Westran drove the ball down the field. Knox County held their own with their JV against several of the Hornet starters. The Hornets passed the football into the left perimeter of Knox County’s defense as time rolled down near the one minute mark.
Defensive back Cody Morgenstern leaped and took the football away from a Hornet receiver racing into the KCHS end zone. Morgenstern regained his balance and set sail for the opposite end of the field.
“I just stayed home, read the quarterback’s eyes and ran,” said KCHS sophomore Cody Morgenstern. “Give credit to our line. They worked their butts off in the weight room all summer,” said Morgenstern. “This is a nice way to come back after that big loss to Brookfield.”
Cameron Kirmse kicked the point after touchdown at the 56 second mark of the fourth quarter. Knox County ran their overall record to 3-1 with the 44-0 shutout victory. This was the Eagles’ second defensive whitewash of the season. Knox County beat Scotland County 38-0 in week two.
Knox County had 16 first downs to five for Westran on the night. The Eagles had three penalties for 15 yards. Westran had six penalties for 30 yards unofficially.
The Eagles rushed 40 times for 402 yards according to unofficial stats. Westran (0-4) was limited to 22 carries for 72 yards. Tyler Hunt led the Hornets with 16 attempts for 54 yards not counting quarterback sacks.
Keenan Gillaspy was 3-7 passing for 30 yards on the night. Lucus Hudson had a 12 yard catch, Cody Morgenstern had a 15 yard reception and Dennis Dent had a three yard catch. Morgenstern had a pass caught by Andy Greenley for 17 yards.
Tyler Hunt was 6-16 for 58 yards and two interceptions. “We wanted to shut them out,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer. “Having (Cody Morgenstern) step up and make that big play to put points on the scoreboard was nice. We did a lot of simple things tonight.”
“We just ran right at them,” said Coach Ramer. “Our strength and conditioning was definitely overwhelming tonight. We had some young kids step up. It was great experience for them. They got some playing time. The defense got pinned back a couple of times deep.”
“We got two turnovers on the board,” said Ramer. “The big difference between us and them is the front line. (Class 1) opponents are going to struggle with us up front. We have been in the weight room for three or four years. On our level, we are going to be as solid as anybody.”
The Eagles have a tough test at Clark County in week five. The Indians are currently undefeated, and won at Brookfield last week. Javis Vineyard is the reigning Class 2 district sprint champion and is one of the area’s best football players Ethan Allen is another player to watch for Clark County. The Indians are coached by Knox County R-I graduate Matt Smith.