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Knights fall in regular season finale

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By Jessica Veatch and Josh Veatch

The Marion County High School Knights football team traveled to Lawrenceburg Friday to take on Anderson County on a night where the weather was anything but cooperative. After a string of lopsided defeats, the Knights were able to keep the game close but eventually fell by a final score of 28-12. This ends their regular season with an overall record of 2-8, and the team will travel to Russell County on Friday night for the opening round of the playoffs.
The game could not have started out much better for Marion County. They received the ball first and were in the process of putting together a very efficient drive. A lengthy pass play that resulted in a touchdown for the Knights was called back due to a holding penalty on the Knights. Marion County proceeded to advance the ball to the 32-yard line, but was unable to convert on a 4th and 3 play giving the Bearcats the ball.
Anderson County put together a drive that took nearly seven minutes of the first period. After burning all three timeouts in a five-minute span, the Bearcats were able to find the end zone by way of a pass to take a 7-0 lead with only 1:46 on the first quarter clock.
On their first drive of the second quarter, Marion County put together another drive, and this one resulted in points. With eight minutes to go until halftime, the Knights quarterback, Hayden Taylor, connected with receiver Lincoln Haydon for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, the Knights trailed 7-6.
Four minutes later, the Bearcats broke free and were able to find some running room that resulted in their second score of the night. With just under four minutes remaining in the half, Anderson County held a 14-6 lead. Neither team was able to score again over the final four minutes and the Knights headed into halftime down eight points.
The teams swapped punts to open the second half before Anderson County caught a break and found their way onto the scoreboard. A strange play in which the Bearcats fumbled the ball, but recovered it nearly 20 yards up field resulted in their third score of the night. At the 7:26 mark the Anderson County lead grew to 21-6.
It didn't take long for the Knights to answer. With 6:36 to play in the frame, Taylor once again connected with Haydon for their second scoring pass of the night. After another failed two-point conversion, the Knights found themselves in a 21-12 hole. Senior Vincent Collins quickly put an end to the next Bearcats drive by intercepting a pass. However, Marion County wasn't able to get the offense going and was forced to settle for a punt.
The fourth quarter started off in a strange way. Just over a minute in, Anderson County looked to have a sure touchdown, but the ball squirted out of the receivers hands and out of the back of the end zone and was ruled a touchback giving Marion County the ball.
After a Knight punt, the Bearcats were able to cap off the night with their final score on their next drive. With 7:22 left in the game, Anderson County rushed for a touchdown to make the score 28-12. Marion County did recover a fumble with just over three minutes left in the game, but were unable to turn the possession into offense. The game would end with the final score of 28-12.
Head Coach Jeff Robbins noted that the team had some difficulties in running the ball.
"Not a very good job running the ball," he said. "We had over 100 yards, but sack yardage knocked us back down to about 40."
The Knights passing attack racked up 223 yards with two big plays between Taylor and Haydon accumulating a large portion of those yards. Robbins noted that Justin Dawson stepped up and played well along with Tyler Curtis and Wyatt Cecil who switched spots on the offensive line.
"A much better team effort on defense," Robbins said.
Vincent Collins led the Knights with nine tackles along with one interception and what Robbins called a "great pass break up." Brian Weatherly also recovered a fumble for Marion County in the game. Robbins added that the special teams are still lacking, especially on kickoff returns and punts.
The Knights will now prepare to head to Russell County for their opening round playoff game. The Lakers finished the regular season at 10-0, and Robbins knows that his team will have a tough task.
"They have one of the state's leading rushers in Nick Britt and a great receiver in Blake Ellis," he said. "Their closest game of the year was a 28-14 win over Pulaski County. They run a 4-4 defense that is big and physical. They have the best kicker in the state with 90 percent touchbacks on kickoffs. They have the total package and their head coach, Bill Sharp, has done a great job."

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Marion Co (2-8):         0 6 6 0 - 12
Anderson Co (8-2)       7 7 7 7 - 28