Falcons Hold Off Knox County Eagles
By David Sharp
Ryan Sherman scored five Fayette touchdowns, leading the home standing Falcons to a 33-15 varsity football victory over Knox County in the season opener for both teams. The Eagles played with the 2007 playoff team in the second half, but spotted the home squad too many points in the first two periods to overcome.
Knox County had two 100 yard plus rushers. Senior Lucas Hudson had 25 attempts for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Gillaspy rushed 15 times for 105 yards. The Eagles had several good sustained drives, but could not counter big Falcon plays.
Ryan Sherman outran the Eagle defense for a 65 yard touchdown dash on the first Fayette play from scrimmage. The two point run failed and the home team led by a 6-0 score.
The contest was played on the Central Methodist University artificial turf field. This was the first chance many KCHS players had to experience the surface they will play on should they advance to the Class 1 championship game.
Sherman hauled in a 50 yard pass from Dalton Lenior at the 9:20 mark of the first quarter for a 12-0 lead. The two point run failed and the score remained at 12-0 in favor of Fayette.
Lucas Hudson capped a 70 yard drive with a six yard touchdown dash with two minutes remaining in the first period. Cameron Kirmse drilled the point after for a 12-7 deficit.
Ryan Sherman struck again, this time on a 42 yard run with 8:03 to play in the second quarter. Sherman ran in the two point conversion for a 20-7 advantage. The Falcons scored one more big touchdown when Dalton Lenior threw a 35 yard touchdown pass with no time showing on the first half clock.
The two point run failed and Fayette held a 26-7 lead at intermission. “We just spotted them too many points,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer. “It’s time for someone to beat us and quit beating ourselves.”
“(Ryan) Sherman is unbelievably fast, but we had chances. We had them down two or three times where we were marching down the field. They were hanging their heads. Three of those drives ended in catastrophe for us. We had a fumble or a series of penalties.”
The Eagles turned the football over three times on lost fumbles. Fayette coughed the ball up once and had two interceptions against. Dennis Dent picked off a first quarter pass and Davin York intercepted a third period aerial.
“If you are going from an average team to a good or great team, you can’t make those mistakes,” said Coach Ramer. “We mixed it up really well between run and pass. We have some legitimate speed threats. We have to get better pass protection, and better pocket performance from our quarterback. These are all things we can work on as a team.”
Defense dominated the third quarter with no points scored. Lucas Hudson capped a 65 yard drive with a three yard run at the eight minute mark of the fourth quarter. Keenan Gillaspy ran in the two point conversion, trimming the Falcon lead to 26-15.
The Eagles made two crucial fourth quarter mistakes. Knox County lost a fumble on the Fayette 19 yard line and muffed a punt late in the contest. Fayette took the football and tacked on a last minute score.
Ryan Sherman caught a 42 yard pass from Dalton Lenior with 50 seconds showing on the game clock for a 33-15 Falcon victory. Big plays benefited the Falcons and spelled much of the offensive difference in the game.
Knox County held a 16-8 unofficial first down advantage. The Falcons rushed 22 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Dalton Lenior went 9-17 passing for 160 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Fayette held a 380-289 advantage in total yards from scrimmage. The Falcons had five penalties for 40 yards and lost their only fumble to Dennis Dent.
Ryan Sherman had 92 yards in receptions and 160 on the ground for 252 total yards and five scores. Four of the Fayette touchdowns were on third down and nine or longer situations.
“We want to see Fayette later on,” said Coach Ramer of a possible meeting with the Falcons in the Class 1 playoffs.
Keenan Gillaspy passed 22 times, completing nine balls for 80 KCHS yards. Dennis Dent had seven catches for 64 yards. Lucas Hudson had one reception for six yards and Davin York caught one pass for eight yards.
Knox County rushed 41 times for 209 yards. Lucas Hudson had 25 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Gillaspy had 15 attempts for a team leading 105 yards. Tristan Lonberger carried one time for two yards.
Andy Greenley and Jacob Moots led the Eagles with five tackles each. Dennis Dent recorded four tackles along with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Knox County opens their home varsity slate against Westran. The Hornets lost to North Shelby by a 25-12 margin in week one. Westran is a year older with almost all their players returning.
The Eagles beat a young Hornet team 38-0 at Huntsville last season. Cody Morgenstern returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown near the end of the game. This season will show an improved team on both sides of the September 5 contest.
“The Westran team we beat 38-0 last year returns every single starter,” said Coach Ramer. “Their sophomores from last year are juniors now. They are probably one of the most improved teams in the area. We got to see them at camp, at their jamboree and against North Shelby.”
“They are a team that has a chance to win their district,” said Ramer. “We know they are a good team and that they have a lot of weapons.”
Hornet players to watch include defensive back Matt George, running back Bryce Enyart, Ryan Head and Tyler Hunt.