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Knox County Eagles Hold On For Second Consecutive Victory
By David Sharp
Knox County is spawning their version of the Cardiac Kids, winning their last two varsity football games by narrow margins.
The Eagles (2-5, 2-2 in the conference) made two second half defensive stands and answered a third quarter Milan touchdown with an 85 yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter for a 20-13 win at Cal Hubbard Field.
The Eagles scored what proved to be the final points of the contest with 5:26 remaining in the game. The extra point try failed, leaving the door open for a last minute Milan comeback try.
Milan drove the ball down the field to the Knox County five yard line. Matthew McCarty made a game saving tackle on Wildcat pass receiver Cody Peterie with less than 30 seconds to play in the game.
The Wildcats spiked the football to stop the clock with ten seconds to play. The play was mistakenly made on fourth down and Knox County was able to get the football back and run out the remaining time.
Milan (3-4, 2-4) mounted an impressive 79 yard drive for the game’s first points on the Wildcat’s opening possession.
Bryce Richardson sprinted through the line for a 50 yard Milan touchdown at the nine minute mark of the first quarter. Edgar Bahena kicked the football through the pipes for a seven point Milan lead.
Knox County answered with a 60 yard touchdown drive. Keenan Gillaspy kept the football on an option play and raced 32 yards to the end zone with 6:19 showing on the first quarter clock. The extra point try was blocked and Milan held the 7-6 lead.
Knox County held the potent Milan offense and forced a punt. Milan took the ball back on their 21 yard line just into the second quarter. The Eagles stopped Milan again, but a roughing the punter penalty gave the ball back to the home team with 9:51 remaining in the first half. David Hinkle set up the play with an 11 yard quarterback sack bringing up fourth down.
Milan had the football on the KCHS 42 yard line. The Wildcats eventually faced a fourth down and six on the Knox County 26 yard line. An incomplete pass turned the ball back over to the Eagles on downs with 7:41 showing on the second quarter clock.
A calculated gamble paid off when the Eagles converted a fourth down and one yard to go play on their 35 yard line with 5:30 to play until intermission. The Eagles recovered two of their own fumbles during the series.
One of the key differences in the game was that Knox County overcame adversity and made positive plays when they needed them most. Lucas Hudson had a long run called back on a penalty. Knox County made a first down on the play.
Dennis Dent made a great over the head catch of a Keenan Gillaspy pass, and an even better run after the catch for a touchdown. Dent dragged would be tacklers the final ten yards into the end zone for a 37 yard reception at the 1:39 mark of the second period.
Lucas Hudson ran in the two point conversion for a 14-7 Eagle lead. Brady Morton recovered a Milan fumble on the Wildcat 40 yard line with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
Knox County moved the football to the Milan eight yard line but ran out of time. The Eagles went to intermission with a 14-7 lead. Knox County held a 10-8 edge in first downs over the opening two quarters. Knox County was an unofficial 19-110 in the rushing category and 4-7 for 74 yards and a touchdown in the air.
Knox County was assessed four penalties for 25 yards in the first half. Milan was flagged three times for 25 yards. Milan rushed 17 times for 149 first half yards and passed for 13 more.
Knox County took the second half kickoff but was forced to punt. The football took a bounce back toward the kicker when a Milan return man found his foot very near the ball. The officials ruled Milan did not touch the ball and the Wildcats took over on their 44 yard line.
Milan drove the football well and capped their 56 yard scoring drive with a four yard Bryce Richardson run with 5:50 showing on the third quarter clock. The game may have turned when a low snap from center on the PAT resulted in an incomplete pass and a 14-13 KCHS lead.
Knox County lofted a long pass to Cameron Kirmse. The Milan defender and Kirmse made contact. No penalty was called. The Eagles moved the ball enough for Keenan Gillaspy to punt the football to the Wildcat 35 yard line.
The Eagle defense forced a fumble. Dennis Dent recovered the football on the KCHS 15 yard line with 11:15 to play in the game. The Eagles went to work offensively.
Andy Greenley and the KC offensive line made a huge play when Greenley ran the ball 16 yards for a first down. Knox County made six plays, five that counted of ten yards or more during the decisive drive.
Lucas Hudson ran the football to the KCHS 42. Davin York hauled in a clutch ten yard pass for a first down. Hudson raced 15 yards closer to pay dirt. Knox County drove the ball to the Milan five yard line.
Cameron Kirmse caught an out route pass for an apparent touchdown. The score was negated by another penalty. The ball was moved back to the Milan 18 yard line.
Keenan Gillaspy had time to find Cameron Kirmse on a short pass route. Kirmse turned on the jets and scored on the next play after the penalty. Kirmse had a ten yard or so run after the catch that completed the play. Knox County took 5:43 off the clock and went 85 yards for the touchdown.
Milan was able to stop Knox County from the two point conversion, setting up a 20-13 KCHS lead with 5:32 to play in the game. A touchdown and two point conversion could send the home fans to their abodes happy with the win.
Milan took the ball on their 30 yard line after Cameron Kirmse’s kickoff. The Wildcats had 5:26 to respond. Bryce Richardson, Cody Peterie and Bryce McDonald had good Milan runs. The wildcats mixed in a seven yard pass to Bryce Richardson.
The field lights went out on the North end of the stadium with 3:29 showing on the fourth quarter clock and the ball on the Knox County 47 yard line. Milan came out of the approximately 15 minute delay with a ten yard or so run from Bryce Richardson.
David Hinkle stopped a Milan runner on the KCHS 30 yard line late in the game. A face mask penalty gave Milan a first down on the KCH S13 yard line with 1:18 to play in the game.
Jacob Moots stopped Bryce Richardson for a two yard loss to the KCHS 15. The game clock ran down. Milan used their final timeout. Freshman quarterback Cooper Bankus completed a seven yard pass to Cody Peterie. Matthew McCarty and a teammate made a game saving tackle with under 25 seconds to play in the game.
The clock was running under the 20 second mark. The pass to Cody Peterie was completed on third down. The down marker appeared to move around with the number three showing on the stick. The officials marked the ball ready for play with about 10 to 15 seconds remaining in the game.
Milan appeared not to be set on offense. No illegal motion play was called. If a penalty was called on the play, it might have worked to the Wildcat’s advantage. The quarterback spiked the football to kill the clock.
The referee stepped in and awarded the ball to Knox County on downs with ten seconds to play in the game. The Eagles ran out the remaining time and took a collective breath with the 23-20 win in hand.
“I thought the hitch route got us the first down and may have taken us to the one (yard line),” said Milan coach John Dabney after the game. “With no time outs and trying to judge the ball position. I thought I had a first down. We could not wait or we would have had no time left.”
“We were yelling to kill the clock,” said Coach Dabney. “I take full responsibility as the head coach. Hats off to Knox County. They came to play. When they have got all their guys together, they have a heckuva football team. Best of luck to them in districts.”
Milan rushed an unofficial 41 times for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Bryce Richardson carried 21 times for a game high 146 Milan yards and two scores. Bryce McDonald rushed 13 times for 93 yards. Brody Schrock was next in line with four attempts for 21 yards.
“We knew we would really have to tough it up on defense if we wanted to win this game,” said returning all district defender Jacob Moots. “We had to do our assignments and key on the fullback. He (Bryce Richardson) did a really good job tonight.”
“We made them work for it,” said Moots. “They didn’t have many really big plays. We had time to settle down and figure out what they were doing when the lights went out.”
“The linebackers filled hard and the D line got off the ball hard. Our ends contained. We knew we had to fire up and buckle down. It could have been over if they had scored and made two points. Hopefully these last two wins will help us going into districts,” commented Jacob Moots.
The Wildcats completed four of six passing attempts for 41 yards for a total of 313 yards from scrimmage. Cody Peterie had two catches for 21 yards. Milan was assessed four penalties for 40 yards on the night. Milan lost two fumbles. Brady Morton and Dennis Dent recovered for Knox County.
Milan recorded 18 unofficial first downs to 19 for Knox County. The Eagles rushed 15 times for 222 yards on the night. Lucas Hudson rushed 18 times for an unofficial 106 yards. Andy Greenley had 11 attempts for 65 yards. Keenan Gillaspy rushed six times for 51 unofficial yards and a touchdown.
Another big key to the outcome was Knox County getting their passing game going. Keenan Gillaspy was 8-13 for 123 yards with two touchdowns unofficially. Knox County was flagged five times for 60 yards in penalties.
Cameron Kirmse led the Eagles with four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Dennis Dent had one reception for 37 yards and a touchdown. Lucas Hudson had two catches for 35 yards. Davin York had one reception for ten yards.
Knox County held a 345 to 306 unofficial advantage in total yards from scrimmage. Andy Greenley led Knox County with 16 tackles. Dennis Dent had 13 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Jacob Moots had ten tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. David Hinkle had eight total tackles and a quarterback sack. Matthew McCarty had eight tackles. Brady Morton recovered a Milan fumble.
Knox County will travel to Scotland County (1-6) for their first District 16 game on October 17. Knox County has a two game winning streak over the Tigers. The Clyde Trophy will be on the line, along with the more important task of winning another conference and the first of three district games.
“We can’t underestimate anybody and we have to keep playing hard,” said Jacob Moots of the upcoming district opener. Timely, rock ribbed defense and playmaking ability was the difference in the game for Knox County.
“This is the third game in a row that Andy Greenley has had 15 or more tackles,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer about his defense at Milan. “Dennis Dent had another great game. We didn’t turn the ball over tonight. We did put it down on the ground a couple times tonight but we got it back.”
“We got two turnovers on them and we did not turn the ball over. That’s probably the difference in a seven point game,” said Coach Ramer. “Fundamentally we do what we do well enough if we don’t beat ourselves.”
“We have a chance at every one of our last five games. We turned the football over 25 times in our first five games. We have turned the ball over once in our last two games. That’s why we have won our last two games.”
“We have Scotland County coming up. We want to keep the Clyde Trophy at home,” said Ramer. “We have had it two years, they had it nine years before that. Our goal is to move into Scotland County, take that third victory and we will talk about the last two games then.”