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By David Sharp
Marceline executed better on both sides of the football, winning Knox County’s season opening football game by a 35-0 margin.
The August 24 contest saw an inexperienced Tiger offensive line block the Eagle front, allowing 2011 thousand yard rusher Kyle Bell to gain 108 yards on 20 carries and score twice.
The Tigers (1-0) scored on their first three offensive possessions. Kyle Bell capped a 61 yard ground oriented drive at the 8:26 mark of the first quarter for a seven point lead.
Kellen Gillaspy broke free on a counter play for a 43 yard gain on the Eagle’s first 2012 offensive set. A fourth and four pass on the Tiger 32 yard line bounced just shy of the intended receiver, turning the football over on downs.
Marceline knocked the Eagles off the line of scrimmage, driving near the Knox County goal line. The Eagles stopped their opponent for two plays.
Dakota Lewis scored on a one yard quarterback sneak with 1:16 showing on the first quarter clock.
Marceline stopped Knox County defensively most of the night. Kellen Gillaspy’s long run accounted for 43 of the 63 total yards gained in the first half.
Marceline picked up 13 first downs to one in the opening 24 minutes.
The Tigers out gained Knox County 189-63 in first half total yards from scrimmage and 349 to 162 on the night. Knox County stayed in the game by recovering two first half Marceline fumbles.
Marceline had better field position all night. The Tiger offense was able to move the football consistently and Knox County could not. Kyle Bell capped a 55 yard drive with 6:47 to go in the first half for a 21-0 lead. Marceline converted a fourth down and ten to the Eagle 13 yard line during the drive.
The Tigers forced another KCHS punt. Marceline was heading to the end zone when Kellen Gillaspy recovered a fumble on the Knox County five yard line. The Eagles punted to their 39. Lee Tague picked up another fumble on the KCHS 25.
Tiger defensive back Chase Hilsabeck intercepted a play action pass with 52 seconds remaining until intermission. Marceline ran out the remaining time for their 21-0 halftime advantage.
Marceline took up where they left off in the second half. The Tigers forced a three and out on the KC 25 yard line. Knox County stopped the Tigers, forcing a punt to the Eagle 37 yard line with 10:51 to play in the third quarter.
The Tigers penetrated well defensively. A seven yard tackle for loss set up a punt to the Tiger 27. Blake Belzer raced 59 yards for a Marceline touchdown on the first play of the game’s 15th series.
Isaac Smith was a perfect 5-5 kicking extra points on the night. Marceline led 28-0 with 4:21 remaining in the quarter. Knox County turned the football over on downs.
Austin Moudy caught a 59 yard touchdown pass from Dakota Lewis with 2:09 showing on the third quarter clock. The extra point set the clock in motion by the Missouri Mercy Rule.
Marceline could have scored two more touchdowns if wide open passes could have been hauled in. Play on the field was more lopsided in favor of Marceline than the final score indicated.
The Eagles gained valuable experience playing one of the top ten winning football programs in Missouri. The warm weather contest will probably help inexperienced players to be in better game shape down the road.
Knox County had at least two lf their starting linemen coming off injuries that limited their practice time. Two others played their first varsity football game. Coupled with the tradition of Marceline football, the week one hurdle was too much to overcome.
“For a young team like we have, I was really proud of them tonight,” Marceline coach Paul Thomas said. “I am sure there are things we could do better when we watch the film.”
“Our line came off the football nice. It’s always good to get a defensive shutout against a good football team your first time out,” Coach Thomas said. “For game one, we are awfully happy and pleased we could play like that.”
Knox County hosts Scotland County in August 31 varsity football action. The game will be broadcast live on KMEM Radio, 100.5 FM in Memphis, Mo. The Tigers were beaten by a 30 point margin by state ranked Salisbury.
The Eagles have 26 players out for football, one fewer than last year. Sam Minear joined the team when school started August 22. The scheduled August 27 Junior Varsity game with Putnam County was cancelled.
Knox County rushed 27 times for 119 yards unofficially. Kellen Gillaspy had five carries for 72 yards. Donovan Edwards rushed 11 times for 25 yards. Edwards was 6-11 passing for 43 yards and an interception.
Jared Barnard and Kellen Gillaspy caught three passes each. Marceline recorded 17 first downs to five for Knox County. The Eagles had five penalties for 35 yards. Marceline was flagged three times for 35 yards.
The Tigers rushed 40 times for 246 yards and passed for 103 more. Dakota Lewis was 4-8 in the air for Marceline. Knox County was plus one in turnovers. Blake Belzer was 9-89 rushing with a touchdown.
Centralia downed Highland by a 33-6 margin. Chris Sparks led the Cougars with ten carries for 57 yards, including a 34 yard first quarter touchdown dash. Sparks had 13 tackles, a quarterback sack and a fumble recovery.
Austin Richmiller was 3-6 passing for 47 Highland yards and an interception.
“Marceline is a big, physical team,” Knox County coach Alex VanDelft said. “They have good athletes. We just have to do a better job of coming forward next week. We have to do a better job of tackling in general.”
“You can do whatever you want as a coach, but it comes down to players playing,” Coach VanDelft said. “Tonight, their players played really well. We have just got to get better.”
“We had some things we did poorly. We had some things we did pretty well. We are just going to improve off those and hopefully when we are playing Scotland County you can see a better performance.”