Knights get banged up in loss at Mercer County; play Rebels Friday

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By Jessica Veatch and Josh Veatch

The Marion County Knights varsity football team traveled to Harrodsburg Friday to play the Mercer County Titans on their homecoming night. After a game full of penalties and injuries, the Knights fell to Mercer County 34-13, taking their overall record to 3-4 on the season and 1-1 in district play.
The Titans won the opening coin toss and elected to receive the football.  On the Marion County kickoff, Mercer County found an opening in the defense and returned the ball for a 90 yard touchdown just a mere 13 seconds into the game.  The Titans added the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 11:47 left in the opening quarter.  After a punt by the Knights on their opening drive, Nick King would recover a Mercer County fumble to give Marion County the ball with 7:12 remaining in the opening period.
However, due to what was blatantly apparent to the Knights fans to be a horrible spot on a fourth down play, Marion County was forced to turn the ball over on downs.  On their next trip, the Knights strung together eight consecutive run plays to finally punch the ball into the end zone.  Quarterback Cameron Brown finished off the drive with a short run over the right side with just over 30 seconds left, but the extra point was no good.  Brown was in to play quarterback due to starting quarterback Ryan Peterson leaving the game with concussion like symptoms after a helmet-to-helmet hit by the Titans.  At the end of the opening frame the score was 7-6 in favor of Mercer County.
On the first drive of the second quarter for the Knights, the Titan defense forced a punt.  Upon receiving the punt, Mercer County was once again able to find an opening in the Marion County defense and ran the ball back for their second touchdown on the night.  The extra point was no good, and with 9:02 left in the first half the Titans were on top 13-6.  On the very next Marion County possession, the Knights would tie the score on a touchdown pass from Brown to Carlos Litsey to cap off a five play scoring drive.  With 7:15 left in the opening half, the game was tied at 13.
The Titans would score again before halftime. With 3:09 left in the first half, Mercer County would run the ball into the end zone for another score to make the score 20-13. After the two teams traded fumbles the half would end with the same 20-13 score in favor of the Titans.
The third quarter consisted of six punts, three from each team. Neither team seemed to get back into any offensive flow or found any points in this frame.  However, on the Titans first drive of the final frame they once again found the end zone through the air to increase their lead to 14 points at 27-13 with 8:07 left in the game. The Knights would fumble on their next drive, but would hold Mercer County to a punt on their next drive.
On the second play of a late Knight drive, Mercer County intercepted the ball and ran it all the way back into the end zone to all but send the Knights to a certain defeat. With just 1:11 remaining in the game, the Titans would pad their lead to 21 points at 34-13. After an impressive end of game drive where Carlos Litsey took all but one snap and threw the ball seven times, completing four, time ran out and the game ended with a final score of 34-13 in favor of Mercer County.
Offensively, the Knights were led by Derrick Robey who had nine carries for 57 yards. Jeremy Mattingly carried the ball 13 times for 50 yards, Cameron Brown had eight carries for 33 yards and one touchdown, Ryan Peterson had four carries for 27 yards, and Austin Turner picked up seven yards on 13 carries. Cameron Brown completed one of his five passes for 16 yards and one touchdown. Carlos Litsey completed five of his eight passes for 112 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tyran Sickles led the way with eight tackles while Carlos Litsey, Chris Gaither, Chance Gillespie and Derrick Robey each had five. Ben Mattingly and Michael Walls each had three pass breakups while Levi Mattingly, Nick King and Derrick Robey all recorded sacks. King also recovered a fumble for the Knights. The Titans ran the ball 26 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns and were 7 for 26 passing for 84 yards.
Coach Jeff Robbins said the team got off to a slow start.
There were more missed offensive blocks by all players than in any other game this year, according to Coach Robbins.
“Defensively, we did not tackle well at all and our special teams seemed like they were not in the game at all with several technique mistakes,” he said.
Late in the first quarter of the game, Ryan Peterson was knocked out of the game after a hard hit. Peterson is listed as having a mild concussion and is questionable for the Knights upcoming game at Boyle County Friday night. John Hewitt and Adam Nalley did not play against Mercer County and both are questionable for the Boyle County game. Austin Turner is playing with a slight fracture in one of his ribs, and Cameron Brown has a strained shoulder, but showed great courage in playing quarterback after Peterson went out, according to Coach Robbins.
The Knights will now turn their attention to Boyle County as they travel to face the Rebels Friday night.
“Boyle County is big, strong, fast, and very well coached,” Coach Robbins said. “Their kids always play with extreme effort and focus.”
The Rebels will be led by 6’4” junior quarterback Casey Whittle who does a good job of running their offense, according to Coach Robbins. He also noted that Boyle County will line up in the wishbone, titan ace and empty formations most of the time, and defensively led by senior linebacker Zack Hester who has already committed to the Naval Academy.
The Rebels will enter the contest with a record of 4-3. They have picked up wins over Allen County-Scottsville, Danville, Indianapolis Arsenal Technical, and Taylor County while losing to Highlands, John Hardin, and Lexington Catholic last Friday at home 20-13.
     1    2    3    4   -    F
Marion (3-4):      6    7   0     0  -  13
Mercer (3-4):     7  13   0  14  -  34