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Though some games have been bigger in scale and more meaningful, the Marion County High School's win over Collins on Friday might have been the biggest win in the last seven years.
Marion County kept the Collins off the field long enough to grab a 30-27 win, knocking off the team that some have picked to win the Class AAAA state title.
"I really truly think that's one of the biggest wins in our program," Knights Head Coach Jeff Robbins said. "We've played in bigger games but this was a huge, huge game."
Junior Austin Turner gave the Knights the upper hand with 48 seconds left in the third quarter when he bobbled a Collins pass and turned it into an acrobatic interception on the Knights eight-yard line.
Turner stopped a drive that would have put Collins ahead by as many as six points, exorcising the demons of a porous pass defense last season that fell to a pass happy Lone Oak squad in the state final four.
From there, the Knights' pounding offense took over.
Marion County conducted a masterful drive, running the clock and working the Collins' defense for a 14 play, 76-yard drive that ended in a 14-yard run by Joseph "Buster" Hazelwood with 5:28 left in the game. Clayton Smith charged into the end zone for a two-point conversion to put the Knights up 30-20.
While Robbins acknowledged that the Turner interception was huge, he didn't want to pinpoint a single play as the most pivotal. Instead, he turned to stats.
"We picked up 27 first downs. That's huge," he said. "We hope to average 12 to 15 a game, and we doubled that up. That's huge for us."
The Knights ran 76 plays from scrimmage for 388 rushing yards and 24 passing yards. Their objective going into the game was to control the line of scrimmage.
"I give us an A+ for controlling the line," Robbins said. "We said all week we wanted to approach this game like the Western game last year by keeping their offense off the field. I thought Coach Epps did a heck of job calling the offense tonight. Of course Robby Peterson did a good job with game plan."
Hazelwood led the Knights offense, which was without Jordan Bell and Jeremy Mattingly for most of the game, with 189 yards on 29 carries. Clayton Smith had 73 yards on 14 carries for the Knights.
Robbins said his team's attitude was crucial in beating the favored team on Friday.
"Our kids have a good attitude. They believe they should win games," Robbins said. "There's no doubt that the kids thought we should win the game. That was the biggest battle we had to fight seven years ago, changing the attitude."
After a huge district win against Collins, the Knights set the table for a solid run through district play.
The Knights travel to unfriendly confines Friday against Shelby County (0-3) to play their second week of district games.
"They lost to LaRue (Friday). LaRue is not a bad football team," Robbins said. "They also lost to Tates Creek (3-0) and Nelson County (3-0). They've played good football teams."
Shelby's most dangerous weapon is No. 6 senior Quinten Cottrell.
"He's an exceptional running back. Shelby County is more run oriented than Collins," Robbins said.
Last year, Collins Head Coach Jerry Lucas was an offensive coordinator for Shelby County.
"They have two very similar schemes but it's more run based for Shelby," Robbins said. "They're a good football team. A lot of good teams are 0-3 right now."
Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.