Paris Stops KC Eagles
By David Sharp
Paris quarterback Alex Thomas amassed 351 unofficial yards passing, leading the Coyotes (1-1) to a 28-6 victory at Knox County in September 4 varsity football action at Ella Campbell Field.
Knox County was unable to move the football most of the night against a stout Paris defense.
The result was a lopsided Coyote advantage in time of possession and offensive attempts from scrimmage. The youthful Eagle defense made plays to keep Paris out of the end zone at least three times, preventing a larger final deficit.
The Coyotes stopped themselves with high shotgun formation snaps several times in the first half. Kable Ragsdale punted twice for Paris, including on the opening series of downs.
The Paris defensive front got the better of things, thwarting the Eagle running game; Knox County was 32-145 rushing as a team unofficially.
Leighton McCabe had a 63 yard run in the second half. McCabe finished with 12 carries for 106 yards. Brady Morton rushed nine times for 36 yards according to unofficial stats.
The Eagles had a six yard pass reception to Leighton McCabe and a five yard completion to Chance Tungate.
Knox County went 2-8 for 11 yards and two interceptions as a team. Brady Morton was 2-6 for 11 yards. Kellen Gillaspy was 0-2 in the passing category. Both KC quarterbacks threw an interception.
Knox County had eight penalties for 65 yards. Paris had five penalties for 60 yards.
“Monroe City gave us a bit of a beat down. Our guys knew that was not the story of our team,” said Paris coach Tim Webster. Paris was defeated 40-6 by inter county rival Monroe City the previous week. Paris returned eight starters on offense.
The Coyotes averaged nearly 25 points per game last season. “Knox County is a good ball club in my mind that fought until the last down of this game. We just came out and fought hard,” Tim Webster said.
Paris put themselves in good field position most of the game. Brandon Baird had another good night punting, kicking eight times for a 37.5 yard average. Knox County mounted a better pass rush on Alex Thomas as the game went on.
Coyote penalties and a nice pass rush from Cody Simmons helped stop Paris on downs at the KC ten yard line with four minutes to play in the first quarter.
After another Knox County three and out, Damon Hemmerling sacked Alex Thomas, setting up a fourth down and goal from the 33 yard line. An incomplete pass gave Knox County back the football on their 33 yard line.
Paris started two drives on the Knox County 35 yard line twice and the Eagle 37 in the first half. Knox County penalties pushed the football back to the six yard line early in the second quarter. Brandon Baird punted to the Coyote 35 yard line.
Paris cashed in their second short field chance of the half. Ben Unterbrink ran the ball in from four yards out at the 8:30 mark of the second quarter. Alex Thomas kicked all four Paris extra points. Paris led by seven points.
Knox County had their most effective offensive set of the half on the subsequent series. Knox County moved the football up the middle, collecting both of their first half first downs.
Steven Whelan recovered a Knox County fumble at midfield, stalling the drive. Paris dashed down the field. An Alex Thomas pass to Devin Vanlandingham went to the Knox County red zone. Vanlandingham fumbled on the run after the catch.
Davin York recovered a Paris fumble on his seven yard line with 4:30 remaining in the first half. Knox County could not move the ball and was forced to punt.
Paris had the ball on the KCHS 37 yard line with just under three minutes to play in the first half, leading by seven points. Colton Danger broke up a third down pass. Davin York pressured Paris quarterback Alex Thomas.
Kable Ragsdale punted to the Eagle 14 yard line. Both defenses held and Paris led 7-0 at intermission. Paris out gained Knox County141-6 passing in the first half and 190-57 in total yards. The Coyotes had nine first downs to a pair for the Eagles.
A 15 yard Paris penalty on the second half kickoff put the ball on the Eagle 38 yard line. Paris defended well, forcing a 40 yard Brandon Baird punt. Paris had the football on their 25 yard line.
The generally older Paris runners and receivers broke tackles. Devin Vanlandingham hauled in another 18 yard pass. Knox County was assessed a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty during the series.
Kable Ragsdale ran 25 yards with a screen pass for a touchdown at the 7:34 mark of the third quarter. The PAT gave Paris a 14-0 lead.
Leighton McCabe bobbled the ensuing kick around the Eagle ten yard line. Paris defenders over ran the play. McCabe dashed 90 yards for a touchdown with 7:17 remaining in the period.
A Knox County penalty waved off the successful two point conversion. A two point pass failed and the Eagles were back in the game, trailing 14-6.
Knox County mounted a good pass rush on Alex Thomas, one of the area’s better football players. The result was five consecutive incomplete passes. Paris countered with a 28 yard reverse to Kable Ragsdale.
The Eagles stopped Paris on downs at their 27 yard line with 5:28 remaining in the third quarter. Knox County could not move the football, punting after three tries.
Paris capped a 59 yard drive when Alex Thomas passed to Kable Ragsdale for a three yard TD with 1:11 remaining in the contest. Devin Vanlandingham caught a 25 yard pass to the Eagle four yard line, setting up the score.
Jordan Whelan picked off a Kellen Gillaspy pass late in the third quarter. A 30 yard interception return gave Paris another short field. Brent Cowan broke up a pass on the final play of the third period. Paris was leading 21-6.
Kable Ragsdale hauled in a 13 yard Alex Thomas pass for what proved to be the game’s final touchdown at the 11:31 mark of the fourth quarter. The kick gave Paris a 28-6 lead. Paris had a 20-3 advantage in first downs at the time.
Chance Tungate intercepted a pass on the Knox County five yard line. The Coyotes drove the football from their 29 yard line. The Eagles mounted their best drive of the night on the next series.
The home team sucked it up and powered from their five to the Paris nine yard line. Leighton McCabe took an option pitch 63 yards out of the hole. An incomplete fourth down pass gave Paris the ball on their nine.
Knox County’s defense stepped up and forced a 40 yard Kable Ragsdale punt. Seth Nobis intercepted a pass late in the game. Paris ran out the remaining time, sealing their 28-6 victory.
Paris stats are unofficial. The Coyotes finished with 24 first downs. Paris rushed 24 times for 126 yards as a team. Ben Unterbrink had 14 carries for 38 yards and a score. Alex Thomas rushed five times for 34 Paris yards. Kable Ragsdale had two carries for 51 yards.
The Coyotes were penalized six times for 60 yards. Alex Thomas passed 40 times for 351 yards on 21 receptions. Thomas had three touchdown passes and one interception against. Devin Vanlandingham had nine catches for 137 yards. Kable Ragsdale caught all three touchdown passes, going 8-112 receiving.
“Going into this season, we knew we had the big guys to give Alex (Thomas) the protection,” Tim Webster said. “Not every pass was going to hit them in the numbers. We had to be athletes and go get the ball.”
“We had a lot of opportunities. We were inside the five (yard line) at least twice and were unable to get it done,” Coach Webster said. “The kids knew that if we kept working we would get it in there. That’s just what we did.”
Knox County rushed 32 times for 145 unofficial yards as a team. Leighton McCabe led the way with 12 attempts for 106 yards. Brady Morton ran nine times for 36 yards. The Eagles had six first downs on the night.
“They did an excellent job. Their defense was flying around making plays,” commented Knox County coach Alex VanDelft. “They got up there, they got to our ball carrier and they got him down.”
“There wasn’t a lot of yards after contact. It comes down to missed tackles,” Alex VanDelft said after the contest.
Cameron Morford led the Eagles with nine tackles, a quarterback sack and a forced fumble.
Damon Hemmerling and Cody Simmons were credited with sacks. Colton Danger and Brandon Baird had eight tackles each. Danger broke up three passes and Baird two.
Paris gained an unofficial 477 total yards from scrimmage. “We had them in the spots we needed on third down. We didn’t make the plays. We improved on our defense performance. It might not show on yards or getting a win.”
“We got to the spots this week. Last week we weren’t,” said Alex VanDelft assessing the Eagle defensive development.
Knox County travels to North Shelby for the first of two contests between the teams on September 10. First year head coach Josh Brummitt was an assistant to former Raider coach Terry Ahern last season.
North Shelby and Knox County will compete for their first conference win, and first victory of the season. “Hopefully we will continue to get better on defense. We need to make tackles. We are going to have to have an A game to win. We need to get back to our week one blocking, where we were getting down field and making blocks,” Alex VanDelft said.