By David Sharp
Milan forced four Knox County turnovers and defeated the Eagles by a 28-21 final score at the 2007 Knox County High School Homecoming football game. The Eagles battled back from Milan leads to tie the contest twice.
A better than advertised Wildcat passing attack coupled with Knox County turnovers and ill-timed penalties spelled the difference.
Milan (4-3, 3-2 in the conference) overcame injuries to their vaunted offensive line and drove the football for touchdowns during their first two possessions.
Cody Schrock capped a 71 yard drive with a Wildcat touchdown at the 6:42 mark of the first quarter. The two yard run and Carlos Hernandez' kick gave Milan a seven point lead.
Knox County (4-3, 3-3 in the Tri-Rivers Conference) found themselves in a third down and long situation around their 30 yard line on their first series of downs.
Knox County saw a good gainer called back by penalty. The Eagles tried a hook and lateral play but lost the football via a fumble.
Milan took possession on the Eagle 44 yard line. The Wildcats had short fields to work with on at least seven possessions during the contest.
Cody Lane cashed in the opportunity with a 19 yard dash at the 1:42 mark of the first quarter. Carlos Hernandez drilled the PAT for a 14-0 Wildcat lead.
Knox County could not move the football and lined up to punt near the close of the first quarter. One of the Milan rushers ran into KCHS punter Lucus Hudson for a 15 yard penalty, giving the Eagles a new set of downs.
Knox County's offensive line opened a hole in the heart of the Wildcat defense. Zach Parrish raced 55 yards to the house at the 11:34 mark of the second period. Cameron Kirmse pulled the home team within a converted touchdown at 14-7.
The Eagles made defensive adjustments, tightening up an already close contest. Knox County forced Milan to punt on their next series of downs. The Eagles had more success running the football between the tackles.
Knox County ran a wingback reverse to Lucus Hudson. The play resulted in a 54 yard touchdown gallop at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter. Cameron Kirmse converted the PAT knotting the score at 14.
The Wildcats stepped up and drove the football 64 yards for a touchdown. Cody Lane scored from five yards out at the 3:06 mark of the first half. The extra point kick put Milan back on top of a 21-14 score.
Knox County took the ball on their 29 yard line with three minutes remaining until intermission. The Eagles moved the football well but were stalled by a pair of holding penalties.
Knox County took the football to the Milan 20 yard line at one point in the drive. A penalty negated another long Knox County gain.
Cody Lane jumped a KCHS pass route and intercepted the football for Milan with 32 seconds remaining in the first half. Time expired and Milan took a 21-14 lead into the halftime dressing room. Milan out rushed Knox County by a 112-24 yard margin in the first quarter.
A good KCHS second period narrowed the margin to 17 carries for 190 Eagle yards at halftime. Milan rushed 26 times for 157 unofficial yards in the opening two quarters. Milan held a 13-9 first down edge. The Wildcats gained 63 yards passing to 15 for Knox County in the first half. Total yardage showed a narrow 220-205 Milan edge at the half.
The Eagles took the second half kickoff and moved the ball. Milan recovered a fumble on the Knox County 46 yard line with 10:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Knox County's defense stood firm and forced Milan to try a 30 yard field goal. Carlos Hernandez had plenty of distance but hooked the football wide of the uprights. Knox County got the ball back on their 20 yard line.
The Eagles earned a first down and faced a fourth down and three on their 37 yard line. Knox County put faith in their running attack and their defense when they went for it. Milan made a good play on defense and stopped Knox County just shy of the down marker.
Milan had the football on the KCHS 40 yard line with 4:40 to play in the third quarter. Knox County made their best defensive stand of the night. David Hinkle sacked Milan quarterback Logan Hill near the midfield stripe. The Wildcats faced a third down and 33 yards to go situation on their 49 yard line.
Brody Schrock punted the ball to the Knox County end zone, giving the Eagles the ball on their 20 yard line at the three quarter pole. Milan led by a 21-14 margin.
Lucus Hudson raced 30 yards with the football only to see the play called back on a holding penalty. Keenan Gillaspy found Lucus Hudson for a 33 yard pass play. Knox County continued to move the football closer to paydirt.
Lucus Hudson sprung Keenan Gillaspy for a 20 yard gain with a great block on the left side of the offense.
The play proved costly when Hudson was not able to play the remainder of the contest due to injury. Lucus Hudson is expected to be available for the Eagles' first district game with Paris.
The Eagles hammered the ball to the Milan two yard line. Keenan Gillaspy followed center Hayden Hunziker and his offensive line into the end zone for a tying touchdown from two yards out at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter. Cameron Kirmse converted the clutch extra point, tying the score at 21 all.
Milan stopped a low line drive kickoff on their 45 yard line. The Wildcats took just over three minutes to retake the lead.
Milan executed a play action pass from Logan Hill to Cody Peterie for a 22 yard score with 5:27 showing on the fourth quarter clock. Carlos Hernandez was 4-4 on extra points, giving Milan a 28-21 lead.
Knox County could not move the football on the ensuing series of downs. Bryce Richardson sacked Keenan Gillaspy on fourth down and 11 giving Milan back the football on the Eagle 36 yard line with 2:32 remaining in the game. Knox County had no remaining time outs.
The Eagle defense kept Milan from icing the game with a first down. Knox County got the ball back on downs on their 28 yard line with 28.9 seconds remaining in the football game.
A first down pass fell incomplete. The Eagles tried a wide receiver option pass. The football sailed more than 40 yard down the field over the intended receiver. Cody Peterie intercepted the football for Milan with 17 seconds to play in the game. Milan downed the football preserving their win of a thrilling 28-21 contest.
Knox County had 17 first downs to 16 for Milan unofficially. The Wildcats were limited to three second half first downs unofficially. Knox County was flagged six times for 55 penalty yards. Milan had four penalties for 25 yards on the night.
"It was nice to win a close game," said Milan coach John Dabney. "I'd be lying if I didn't say it was nice to win in my home town. I enjoy where I am. It was a great game. Knox County had improved a lot. Their kids are getting so much better,"
"This game could have gone either way," said Coach Dabney. "The only thing that stopped us at times was ourselves. They had some great calls on blitzes and stopped us.
See EAGLES, Page 10
Zach Parrish only needs about the width of a hash mark and he gets through. He is a tremendous player and probably an even better person."
"You are not going to pitch a shutout every game," said Dabney. "We just had to hang in and make stops, especially late in the game."
Knox County rushed 40 times for 303 net yards. Zach Parrish had another great game, with 29 attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown. Parrish went over the 1000 yard rushing mark for the season in his seventh game.
Lucus Hudson was five for 88 yards rushing with a touchdown. Keenan Gillaspy rushed four times for a net of 28 yards. Jacob Moots carried twice for five yards.
The Eagles only gave up one quarterback sack against a very good Milan defense. Knox County was 4-9 in the passing game for 46 yards and two interceptions. Lucus Hudson had two catches for 46 yards.
Cody Lane led the Wildcats with 22 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Brody Schrock had 16 rushing attempts for 65 yards unofficially. Milan finished the game with 45 rushes for 224 net yards unofficially.
Logan Hill was 6-7 passing for 102 yards and a Milan touchdown. Brody Schrock had five catches for 80 yards. Schrock and Logan Hill had Milan pass interceptions.
Knox County wound up with 349 total yards from scrimmage unofficially. Milan gained 326 yards from scrimmage unofficially. Five KCHS turnovers played a huge role in the final outcome.
"Turnovers and penalties were pretty much the story of the game. The kids fought their hearts out," said Eagle coach Steve Ramer. "Opportunities were there for us at times. We just didn't take advantage of those opportunities. We played a good team. We made a lot of mistakes."
"The turnovers were just too much for us to overcome," said Ramer. "They scored seven points in the second half. That's what you ask out of your defense. We started out slow both offensively and defensively."
Knox County enters district play hosting ninth ranked Paris (6-1). The Coyotes have great overall team speed, and employ a college style spread offense. Paris quarterback Joe Gilliam had nine touchdown passes earlier in the season.
"We have a really tough district," said Coach Ramer. "We face the ninth ranked team in the state. South Shelby is the defending state champion. We have to eliminate the mistakes we made tonight. Paris is our first focus. We have to take our district games one at a time."
An injury depleted but improving North Shelby club is the remaining district 16 participant.
Monroe City proved the Paris defense is vulnerable to the run. If Knox County can control the clock with their running game and put pressure on a mobile Joe Gilliam they can compete for a district victory.
Knox County will conclude their home football season with the October 19 contest. Eagle football seniors Zach Parrish, Daniel McMahon, Kane Simmons, Ethan Hustead, John Greenley and Jeremy Hudson will be honored during Senior Night ceremonies.