The Clyde Stays Home. KC Eagles Win First Round District Game Over Scotland County Tigers
By David Sharp
Both sides made play after play in a thrilling Class 1 District 12 football opener at Ella Campbell Field. Keenan Gillaspy scored three Knox County touchdowns and rushed for 150 yards leading the Eagles to a 19-12 win over Scotland County.
Scotland County (4-4, 1-3 in the conference, 0-1 in the district) sniffed out a Knox County fake punt late in the fourth quarter.
Keenan Gillaspy and Damon Hemmerling made great open field tackles and Tristan Lonberger batted down a third down pass helping stall a last ditch Tiger drive with under a minute to play in the game.
Fans on both sides were on their feet in a college like atmosphere most of the fourth quarter.
“The fans were really into the game,” said Knox County assistant coach Jake Hemmerling. “The kids feed off their fans. They can feel the fans behind them.”
Bad snaps and three fumbles stalled Eagle progress, Tristan Lonberger picked off a Kyle Shelley pass, stopping a late second quarter drive. Shelley recovered a fumble on the Scotland County 41 yard line with two minutes left in the third quarter. Each side turned the ball over one time.
“I saw two evenly matched teams going at it,” said Scotland County coach Brent Bondurant. “We scored and they came back and scored against us. We had some costly penalties. We broke down on the option a couple of times and Keenan Gillaspy took it to the house on us.”
“We had them accounted for, but they got us blocked,” said Brent Bondurant. “There at the end we gave it an effort. We just didn’t get it done. It was a good game to watch I’m sure. It was a tough one to lose.”
Scotland County marched 75 yards twice for their touchdowns. Cody Taft hammered the Eagles 25 times for 225 yards and two Tiger touchdowns. Backup quarterback Brock Bondurant stepped in for Sabe Sears, who broke his right hand earlier in the week.
Brock Bondurant found Harley Stone for a 16 yard pass completion on third and long to keep Scotland County’s second drive of the first half alive. Cody Taft raced 33yards for the game’s first score with 32 seconds showing on the first quarter clock.
David Hinkle blocked the point after kick, keeping the score at 6-0 in favor of Scotland County. “We have a lot of great rushers,” said returning all conference and all district senior David Hinkle.
“Damon Hemmerling comes from the other side. He’s really quick. He’s a good athlete. We mixed things up for this game,” said David Hinkle. “They let us shoot the inside gaps.”
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said David Hinkle when asked his thoughts on Knox County winning the Clyde Trophy four consecutive years after Scotland County won the Kyle Peterson Trophy the first eight years of it’s existence.
“Our senior class has been successful. We are going into North Shelby pretty confident after this win,” said Hinkle. “We are hoping for another win in districts. We want to go farther than we have ever been in the playoffs.”
The Eagles took possession on their 35 yard line with 26 seconds remaining in period one. Knox County found lightning in a bottle when Keenan Gillaspy raced 57 yards to the end zone with 11:14 showing on the second quarter clock.
Cameron Kirmse booted the extra point home for a 7-6 Eagle lead. Both sides played rock ribbed defense taking turns stopping their opponent on downs.
Former Tiger quarterback Kyle Shelley ran the football out of a Wildcat formation. The Eagles were able to limit Scotland County’s 225 pound senior fullback to eight carries for 22 yards on the night. Shelley was held under nine yards on each carry.
Kyle Shelley launched a halfback option pass into the waiting hands of Eagle defensive back Tristan Lonberger with 59 seconds to play in the first half around the Knox County 30 yard line.
Scotland County forced a punt. Knox County held the Tigers off the board and the game went to halftime with the Eagles leading by a 7-6 margin.
Halftime statistics showed Scotland County doubling the Eagle first down total with an 8-4 advantage. The visitors out rushed Knox County 134-108 in the first two periods. The Tigers were 2-6 for 24 yards and an interception in the first half.
Knox County did not complete a pass during the contest. The Eagles ran for 100 yards more than their guests in the second half. Knox County held a 15-13 first down advantage at the final gun, an 11-5 edge in the second half.
Scotland County took the second half kickoff to their 25 yard line. Cody Taft dashed 36 yards to the Eagle 13 yard line. Taft capped the 75 yard scoring march with a five yard touchdown run at the 7:50 juncture of the third quarter.
The two point run failed and Scotland County led 12-7. Knox County took over on their 40 yard line with 7:49 showing on the clock. Tristan Lonberger took an option pitch 37 yards to the Tiger 20 yard line.
It didn’t take the Eagles long to retake the lead. Keenan Gillaspy sprinted 20 yards to the house. Gillaspy went the final five yards on all fours after breaking a tackle inside the ten yard line.
The two point run failed and Knox County led by the slimmest of margins at 13-12 with 5:16 to play in the third quarter. Scotland County came right back at the Eagles.
Cody Taft hit the home team with a 20 yard run. A blocking below the waist penalty on Scotland County negated a first down pass play. The penalty moved the football 40 yards back from where the pass was completed.
Scotland County punted from around their 20 yard line. Tyler Eggers got a good bounce and moved Knox County back to their 34 yard line with 2:25 remaining in period three.
Damon Hemmerling raced 24 yards to the Tiger 33 yard line, converting a fourth down gamble. Kyle Shelley recovered an errant option pitch on the Scotland County 41 yard line.
Tristan Lonberger batted down a third and seven pass attempt, forcing a punt. Knox County was able to shut down Scotland County’s run game most of the fourth quarter.
The Eagles took over on their 33 yard line with 9:15 to play in the game leading by a point. Keenan Gillaspy gave the Eagles some breathing room with an eight yard touchdown scamper with 7:39 standing between Knox County and their first district football win of 2009.
There were so many more thrills to come.
Knox County did not allow Brock Bondurant time to find receivers. Brian Schrage sacked the Tiger signal caller. Tyler Eggers pinned Knox County back to their 15 yard line. The Eagles led 19-12 with 6:27 to play in regulation time.
Damon Hemmerling stepped up and ran the football 20 yards; partially negating the poor KCHS field position. Scotland County was assessed a delay of game penalty after a Knox County time out.
Brent Bondurant said after the contest that the officials told the Tiger coach they had warned him three times to get off the field quicker after timeouts. Coach Bondurant told the Edina Sentinel and KMEM Radio that he only heard one of the warnings.
The five yard penalty gave Knox County a first down on a third and three situation. Scotland County rose defensively. The Tigers stopped Keenan Gillaspy on a fake punt at the Tiger 43 yard line.
Scotland County had one more chance to tie, or go ahead with a touchdown and two point conversion with 2:43 showing on the game clock. It was the Eagles’ turn to make a fourth quarter defensive stand.
Damon Hemmerling possibly prevented a touchdown, stopping Cody Taft with a great open field tackle at the two minute mark. Keenan Gillaspy made another outstanding open field stop, setting up a third down and long.
Brock Bondurant found Brandon Garnett on a sideline patters for a six yard gain on fourth down, keeping the drive alive. Keenan Kite led a host of Eagle sack artists, planting the Tiger quarterback for a ten yard loss.
Tristan Lonberger batted down another pass, this time on third down and 20 yards to go. Scotland County faced a fourth down and 20 on their 40 yard line with 40 ticks on the game clock.
Brock Bondurant heaved a long pass near the Knox County 30 yard line. The football fell harmlessly to the ground with no player within ten yards of impact. “We came out fired up in the second half,” said Eagle senior Tristan Lonberger.
“It was just like the Milan game. They drove the ball down and scored. We came out jacked and ready to play after that. We played good defense, but Keenan (Gillaspy) stepped up big time,” said Lonberger.
“Our line was just phenomenal. We played great.” Knox County fans screamed with delight as their team downed the football, sealing the 19-12 Eagle victory.
Senior captain Andy Greenley hoisted the Clyde Trophy after the contest. “It was a pretty good feeling,” said Keenan Gillaspy of witnessing the trophy presentation. “We won it in our freshman year. Since then we have fought to keep it, and we have.”
“It all starts on the line,” said Keenan Gillaspy. “They opened great holes for us.” The Eagles played without two way starter Ben Harder, who missed the game due to injury. Our backs and receivers did a good job of blocking down the field,” said Keenan Gillaspy.
“We just did a very good job of executing the option. It all worked out very well tonight.”
Andy Greenley had a very good night running the football with seven carries for 38 yards. “Ben Harder missed the game with an injury. Brady Morton filled his (linebacker) spot. He did a good job,” said Andy Greenley.
Brady Morton led Knox County with 16 tackles. Andy Greenley was next in line with 14 tackles.
“We worked together as a team. We just did our jobs. It was a team effort,” said Greenley. Knox County rushed 38 times for 321 yards unofficially. Damon Hemmerling backed up Keenan Gillaspy’s 13 carry 150 yard, three touchdown night with ten rushes for 69 yards.
Tristan Lonberger rushed four times for 51 yards. Cameron Kirmse had four carries for 13 yards unofficially. Knox County fumbled the football three times, losing one. Knox County limited their penalties to one for five yards. Keenan Gillaspy punted three times for a 31 yard average.
David Hinkle, Travis Hamlin, Brian Schrage and Keenan Kite recorded quarterback sacks for Knox County. The Eagles evened their season record at 4-4, 2-3 in the conference and 1-0 plus seven in the district.
Schuyler County defeated North Shelby by a 24-0 score in District 12 play. Knox County travels to North Shelby next week for their second district contest.
The fact that North Shelby faces elimination at the hands of one of their fiercest conference rivals, on their home field will make Terry Ahern’s team that much harder to beat. Both the Raiders and Rams have battled injury problems all season.
Scotland County rushed 35 times for 247 yards according to official statistics. Brock Bondurant was 4-13 for 35 yards passing. Kyle Shelley was 0-1 with a Tristan Lonberger interception. Harley Stone had a 17 yard pass catch. Brandon Garnett caught two passes for 11 yards. Kyle Shelley had a seven yard pass reception.
The Tigers were flagged six times for 50 yards unofficially. Tyler Eggers punted four times for a 36.25 yard average.
“We had a four quarter effort by the entire team,” said Knox County coach Steve Ramer. “We got big plays from (David) Hinkle, (Andy) Greenley and (Damon) Hemmerling on defense. Our DB’s did a good job of keeping things underneath them.”
“We took care of the football. We had a couple of drops, but we didn’t give it up to them,” said Coach Ramer. “If we don’t turn the ball over, we are a good team. We had some unsung tonight. Our fullback (Andy Greenley) averaged seven yards a carry tonight. That means our quarterback is going to have a good night and out tailbacks are going to have a good night.”
“Tristan (Lonberger) and (Damon) Hemmerling have a good combo going. We had to tackle for four quarters,” said Steve Ramer of the Eagle defensive effort. They are going to run at you, and they are going to run hard. They had some big plays on us, but we made them drive,” said Ramer.
“Both of us are alike, we like to run the football. When we got in the last two minutes, we were out of our element. David Hinkle is a tough match up for anyone in Class 1 as a rush defensive end. We were able to play for four quarters tonight.”