The Knox Central Panthers went head to head with the Taylor County Cardinals Friday night on their home field for the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Panthers got ahead early and maintained their lead to win the game 35 to 7.
Knox Central won the coin toss and kicked off the game. At the 8:55 mark in the first quarter, Knox Central’s Jermel Carton ran the ball 55 yards before going down right outside the end zone. Tanner Wells then threw a complete pass to Jaxon Stewart for a Panther touchdown. Nick Martin successfully kicked the ball through the uprights, making the score 7 to 0. One minute later, the Cardinals received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting the officials’ call, resulting in a 15-yard penalty against the Cardinals.
At the 6:34 mark, Jaxon Stewart ran the ball for a Panthers first down and on the next play the Panthers were called off-sides for lunging forward too early. Knox Central’s Troy Bierman then carried the ball when the Panthers were called for holding, resulting in a 10-yard penalty against Knox Central. With 44 seconds left in the quarter, Donovan “Doolittle” Arthur carried the ball for a gain of five yards.
At the start of the second quarter, a carry by Knox Central’s Jared Hall earned the Panthers a first down. At the 9:50 mark, Arthur ran the ball in for a touchdown and Martin kicked for the extra point, furthering the Panthers’ lead 14 to 0. Hall carried the ball for another Panthers’ first down at the 4:00 mark and ten seconds later Knox Central was penalized again for holding. Knox Central’s Jaxon Stewart threw a beautiful pass to Tanner Wells on the 50-yard line with 2:40 left in the quarter. The halftime score was Knox Central: 14 Taylor County: 0
At the beginning of the third quarter, Knox Central was first and ten when No. 11 for Taylor County intercepted a pass intended for Jaxon Stewart, however, unsportsmanlike conduct was called on the Cardinals again, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. At the 10:28 mark, Taylor County was two and nine and had the ball at the line of scrimmage and the ball was thrown to No. 4. The pass was complete, but No. 4 didn’t make it far before being taken down by a host of Panthers. At the 7:46 mark, Taylor County’s Anthony Hillard ran the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. They successfully kicked for the extra point, bringing the Cardinals up 14 to 7. At the 3:32 mark, Jared Hall ran the ball in for a touchdown and Martin kicked for the extra point to make the score 21 to 7.
Hall scored his second touchdown of the night with 7:45 left in the game and Martin successfully kicked for the extra point to make the score 28 to 7. Knox Central’s Jeremy Stewart ran the ball in for another Panthers’ touchdown at the 1:43 mark and Martin kicked the ball through the uprights for the fifth time that night to make the final score of the game Knox Central: 35 Taylor County: 7.
Knox Central’s Head Coach, Scott Russell, was ecstatic over the win and says they owe their win to the fantastic performance by both the offensive and defensive lines, “I think the biggest thing was we stuck with the game plan. Our offensive and defensive line played really well tonight and I feel like we won the game up front. They were stacking everybody in the box on us on offense so we knew if we just kept giving the ball to our big horses then sooner or later they were going to bust one on our offensive line and throughout the game we would start wearing them down.”
The Knox Central Panthers will be moving on to the second round of playoffs next Friday at Mercer County at 7:30 p.m.