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The Marion County High School football team hit the road Friday evening to take on Taylor County. After having their bye week the previous Friday night, the Knights were looking to ride the momentum of their first win of the season over rival Washington County two weeks ago. The Cardinals started the season 4-0, but came into the game after being routed by Boyle County 53-0 the previous week.
Marion County forced a Taylor County punt on their first possession of the game, but turned the ball over on the ensuing possession. After another punt by the Cardinals, the Knights found the end zone with a rushing touchdown with 4:27 left in the opening frame. It wouldn't take long for Taylor County to answer as they rushed for a touchdown of their own just three minutes later to tie the score at seven with 1:37 left in the first period. The frame would end with the Cardinals driving after a Marion County punt.
The defense for the Knights came through once again and forced the Cardinals into their third punt of the night. Marion County would capitalize on their opportunity with another rushing touchdown with 8:31 left in the half to take a 14-7 lead. The Knights would recover a Cardinal fumble, but were unable to convert on a fourth down play giving Taylor County the ball back. Late in the period, Taylor County was able to rush for their second score, but an unsuccessful two point conversion attempt left the score 14-13 at the half with the Knights in the lead.
As the teams were exiting the field for the halftime break, a confrontation between the Marion County coaching staff and the officials broke out near the Knights sideline. After a heated exchange and several penalty flags, Head Coach Jeff Robbins was ejected from the game, and several penalty yards were assessed on the opening kickoff of the second half.
Originally, Coach Robbins was given a three game suspension but appealed that decision to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. After review by the KHSAA, that decision was overturned.
"The officials misinterpreted the rule, and should not have ejected Jeff or anyone else from the game," Marion County High School principal Stacey Hall said.
The rule states that two penalties must directly be called on the same coach in order for that coach to be ejected. However, that was not the case as only one penalty was called on Coach Robbins and one was called on a Marion County assistant. After review of the situation, the commissioner of the KHSAA overturned Coach Robbins' suspension. With the revised ruling, Coach Robbins will not miss any games, and will be coaching in the Mercer County game on Friday night.
The Knights took the kickoff to start the second half, but were backed up inside their own five-yard line. The poor field position led to a tackle in the end zone by the Cardinals for a safety. Only 10 seconds into the quarter, Taylor County regained the lead 15-14. On Marion County's next drive, quarterback Hayden Taylor found some running room and broke free for a rushing touchdown to put the Knights back on top. With 8:57 on the clock, Marion County regained a 21-15 lead. The period would end with three consecutive punts and the Knights would have the ball as time expired.
Not much offense was mustered by either team in the final 12 minutes as punts were traded. Late in the period, with Taylor County driving, Marion County recovered a fumble with just 1:15 left in the game. After three kneel downs to run out the clock, the Knights took the victory by a final score of 21-15.
The offensive line had their worst game of the year, according to Coach Robbins. "We only had 114 yards on 40 carries," he said. "Very little consistency and several blown assignments up front."
The Knights were led in rushing by Hayden Taylor with 61 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. Logan Breeding picked up 18 yards on four carries and scored a touchdown as well. Tyran Sickles also picked up a rushing touchdown on the game.
Hayden Taylor was six for 10 passing for 65 total yards. Cameron Brown grabbed a pair of passes for 40 yards, Vincent Collins caught three balls for 20 yards, and Michael Walls nabbed one pass for a five-yard gain.
"We allowed Taylor County 231 yards and two touchdowns on 53 plays, so the defensive effort was a good one," Coach Robbins said. "With the exception of one long touchdown run and one vertical pass that set up a touchdown, the defense played its best game of the year."
Marion County was led in tackles by Wyatt Cecil with nine. Tyran Sickles was close behind with eight tackles. Samaad Bouie, Wyatt Cecil and Vincent Collins each recovered a fumble in the game.
The Knights now look toward a match-up with district opponent Mercer County on Friday night. Homecoming festivities will take place during the game.
"Mercer County is a much improved team from last year with lots of athletes," Coach Robbins said. "They are 3-3 right now and are 0-1 in the district."
The Titans fell to Lexington Catholic 34-16 two weeks ago, and will enter the game with the Knights after a win over Nelson County 48-28.
"It is going to take a much better effort on our part, in all facets of the game, to be able to win this game," Coach Robbins said.
Marion Co (2-4): 7 7 7 0 - 21
Taylor Co (4-2): 7 6 2 0 - 15