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KC Eagles Win Homecoming Football Game Over Slater
By David Sharp
Dominant line play and two touchdown performances from Tristan Lonberger and Keenan Gillaspy were big parts of a 51-7 Knox County Eagle football victory over Slater.
The Eagles (2-1) exorcised ghosts of a ghoulish performance at Slater a season ago, and provided much needed momentum entering Tri-Rivers Conference play.
Keenan Gillaspy did not start the game at quarterback due to injury. Gillaspy came into the contest and raced 55 yards to the house at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter for the game’s first score. Gillaspy passed to Tristan Lonberger for a 12 yard fourth quarter touchdown.
“I was coming off an injury, so I didn’t know how well I would play,” said Knox County’s returning all district signal caller. “It was homecoming, so everyone was pumped up. The line did a really good job of blocking and the receivers got open as well.”
“We got down the field and blocked pretty well. We ran the ball well tonight.” Knox County entered the field with their entire starting offensive backfield sidelined with injuries.
The KCHS 2009 Homecoming football game was played before a large crowd. The bleachers were filled with a ten deep gathering along the west side of Ella Campbell Field.
Junior Davin York’ football season is finished due to a serious knee injury. York injured his MCL and ACL ligaments along with his meniscus and a cracked femur. Davin York’s half brother Tyson Ausmus injured his knee during the second game of his junior year a few years ago.
Senior fullback/linebacker Andy Greenley tried to push the ball across the goal line from a yard out, but was forced from the contest with an ankle injury.
Tristan Lonberger stepped up with a 40 yard return of the opening kickoff to the Slater 40 yard line. Knox County’s defense and a good kicking game kept the Wildcats bottled up on their end of the field most of the game.
Knox County started every second half possession inside Slater territory. The best field position the visitors enjoyed was on their 40 yard line twice in the contest.
The Eagles could not move the football very well with the raw reserves handling the football early in the game. The teams alternated being stopped on downs during their opening possessions.
Knox County drove the ball to the Wildcat 13 yard line before losing the first of two fumbles on the night. The Eagles allowed nothing on defense and forced a Cody Skinner punt.
Keenan Gillaspy capped a 59 yard drive with a touchdown. The kick failed and Knox County led by six points. Knox County forced another punt. Tristan Lonberger returned a 40 yard punt 19 yards to the Eagle 31 yard line.
Cameron Kirmse returned to the line up and cracked off a 19 yard run. Knox County moved the football to the Slater one yard line. Keenan Gillaspy scored on a quarterback keeper with 11:57 remaining in the second quarter. Cameron Kirmse ran in the two point conversion for a 14-0 lead.
Slater held the football a minute and a half before punting. Knox County doubled Slater’s first half time of possession. Cameron Kirmse kicked a 30 yard field goal with 7:50 showing on the second quarter clock.
The Eagles stopped Slater on downs at the Eagle 20. The Wildcats got some offense going for the first time in the contest, moving the ball from their 33 yard line.
Slater (1-2) made plays on defense and forced a punt. David Hinkle sacked Cody Skinner twice near the close of the first half. The second sack tore Skinner’s number 11 jersey from his back. The sacks added up to 20 yards lost. Cody Skinner wore number 17 during the second half.
Knox County cracked off several big plays in the first half. The Eagles held a 117-53 halftime rushing edge. Knox County had five first downs to four Slater first half first downs. The Eagles had one more rushing attempt in the first 24 minutes.
Slater out gained Knox County 43-11 in the air during the first half. Knox County had a 125-66 total net yard advantage in the first half.
Knox County led 17-0 at intermission. The Eagles earned 15 second half first downs to eight for Slater. The Eagle defense bottled the Wildcats up defensively, forcing a punt. Knox County took the football just over midfield in Slater territory.
Tristan Lonberger capped a 49 yard drive with a determined 11 yard run for a touchdown. The KCHS senior dragged two would be tacklers into the end zone with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter. Cameron Kirmse’s run put Knox County up 25-0.
“It felt good. We started out with something new, but we went back to our regular offense a couple of plays in,” said Tristan Lonberger. “We started going at it. Our line is what carries us. We had to get to the holes really fast out of the shotgun.”
“We were thinking about last year a lot. We talked about it before the game,” said Tristan Lonberger of the Knox County at Slater 18-0 defeat. The contest was played in the face of severe weather and a seven inch rainfall in the previous 36 hours.
“I think we made up for that tonight. (Clark County and Brookfield) are good every year,” said Lonberger. “The (Brookfield) game is going down to the fourth quarter. This is the most points we have scored all year.” Brookfield defeated Milan 48-0 in week three action. The Bulldogs had struggled to score against Marceline and Putnam County starting off the season.
Knox County had much the same issues with point production against Westran and Fayette.
The Eagles took advantage of a short field to score on a five yard Brady Morton run at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter. Knox County took a commanding 31-0 lead.
Slater mounted a solid 81 yard drive for their lone score. Cody Skinner raced 58 yards into Knox County territory. The Eagles committed a pass interference penalty on third and goal inside their ten yard line, giving Slater a first down.
Cody Skinner capped the drive with a five yard touchdown run at the 3:09 mark of the third quarter. The extra point kick was good, making the score 31-7 Knox County.
Knox County continued to pound the Wildcats along the line of scrimmage. “We have got a couple of young guys along the left side (of the Eagle offensive line). They are stepping up and doing well,” said Knox County senior tackle Travis Hamlin.
“We came out a little rocky on (defense). But we got it together and did well. We started crashing the A gaps. The linebackers came up and did the rest,” said Travis Hamlin of the Eagle defensive effort.
“Brookfield has played a couple of good teams. They are not a push over. The Clark County and Brookfield games will be tough for us. If we get through these first five games of the season, I think we will do pretty well after that,” said Hamlin.
The Eagles lost a fumble on the Slater 40 yard line. Knox County stopped their guests on downs after a five yard gain.
Knox County went to the air early in the fourth quarter. Keenan Gillaspy found Tristan Lonberger for a 12 yard touchdown connection with 10:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles tacked on two more touchdowns. Cody Pegg scored from three yards out for a 45-7 lea with 6:11 to play in the game. Freshman Kellen Gillaspy picked up a fumble on the Slater nine yard line. Chance Tungate scored with 2:54 to play in the game. The run failed and Knox County took the 51-7 victory.
Knox County gained 307 yards on 54 rushing attempts unofficially. Brady Morton rushed ten times for 82 yards. Cody Skinner recorded a game high 92 yards on 13 tries and a Slater touchdown.
Tristan Lonberger rushed ten times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Kirmse had 12 rushing attempts for 56 yards. Kirmse had a combined 80 yards from scrimmage in his first game of the season.
Cameron Kirmse could kick, but was previously unable to run plays due to injury. Keenan Gillaspy had five attempts for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Cody Pegg rushed six times for 20 yards and a Knox County touchdown. Chance Tungate had two carries for 12 yards and a score. Keenan Kite had two attempts for two yards. Andy Greenley rushed once for a yard.
Keenan Gillaspy was 5-7 passing for 63 yards and a touchdown. Tristan Lonberger had two receptions for 28 yards and a score. Cameron Kirmse hauled in two balls for 24 yards. Dylan Morgret had a catch for 11 yards.
Knox County held a 20-10 first down advantage. The Eagles had 370 total yards, 320 net yards from scrimmage. Knox County was assessed six penalties for 50 yards.
Slater rushed 38 times for 145 yards. Cody Skinner completed four of 11 passes for 77 yards. Jermie Pittman had two receptions for 43 Slater yards. Slater had five penalties for 45 yards and lost 20 yards to David Hinkle quarterback sacks. The Wildcats gained 222 total yards, 157 net yards from scrimmage.
David Hinkle led Knox County with 14 tackles. Ben Harder recorded 13 tackles. Damon Hemmerling brought down Slater runners ten times. Kellen Gillaspy had the Knox County fumble recovery. The Eagles lost the turnover battle by a 2-1 margin.
“We moved a lot of guys around, so we knew we would be stiff and rusty,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer. “We are still missing a few key cogs in there. We need to get these guys some experience. We grew as the game went on. That’s what we wanted to see.”
“We needed to finish (scoring chances) and we did finish,” said Coach Ramer of the Eagle offensive output. “We started off sloppy, but we got the lead. Once we got the lead the kids finished.”
“We really needed to get healthy and get better,” said Steve Ramer. “We got Cameron Kirmse back. He is a huge weapon for us. I think Tristan (Lonberger) played well tonight.”
“We are still bouncing around in that halfback position. It’s halfback by committee. Everyone we play can do a different thing right,’ related Coach Ramer. “”It depends on who we play who will be out there.”