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The Marion County Knights football team picked up their first win of the season over arch rival Washington County Friday evening. The game was close throughout but Marion County never trailed. The Knights pulled away in the fourth quarter, once leading 28-14, before winning the game 28-21.
"I have coached in this game for nine years now, and this game was like all the others with the exception of the 2009 game... a game decided by seven points or less," Head Coach Jeff Robbins said. "I feel that it was a very entertaining game considering that both teams were winless coming in. But, like any real rivalry, previous records, momentum and all other stats can be thrown out the window."
The Knights began the game with an on-side game opening kickoff that gave Washington County the ball at midfield to begin the game. However, the Commanders couldn't capitalize on the field position and the Knights defense forced a turnover on downs. The Knights were able to score on their next possession to take the lead. A rushing touchdown by Marion County with 5:21 left in the opening period gave the Knights the 7-0 lead.
Washington County returned the kickoff to the nine-yard line and was in position to tie the score. However, after a sack by Jack Hagan the Commanders were faced with a fourth and 20 play and were unable to convert. The Knights were forced to punt the ball to Washington County who was driving as time ran out in the first period.
The teams traded turnovers to open the second quarter before Washington County got on the scoreboard. With 3:36 left until halftime, the Commanders tied the game at seven with a rushing touchdown. The Knights answered back a little less than two minutes later to regain the lead. Quarterback Hayden Taylor rushed for the score to give the Knights a 14-7 lead with 1:42 left in the half.
Just 40 seconds later, the Commanders completed a long passing play to set up another score. With just over a minute left in the first half, the Commanders rushed for the score to tie the game at 14, which would be the score at the half.
On their first drive of the second half, the Knights found the end zone once again by way of a rushing touchdown. Just under four minutes into the third period, the Knights took a 21-14 lead. The third frame ended with a Washington County fumble, a Marion County punt, another Washington County fumble and a Marion County fumble.
After the two teams traded possessions early in the final period, the Knights finally broke free and scored their fourth rushing touchdown of the game. With 3:11 left in the game, the Knights took a 28-14 lead. Washington County was able to answer, but it was too little too late as their score came with less than one minute remaining. The Knights took over the ball, and simply ran out the clock to secure their first win of the season.
Robbins noted that the Commanders had changed their offensive style heading into the game with the Knights.
"I felt that Washington County came in and played, by far, their best game of the year," he said. "Coach Sagrecy completely changed the offense in preparation for our game in the two weeks that they had to get ready for us."
Robbins pointed out a key area that his team must improve on.
"It is obvious that we have to find a combination of three secondary players that will work together and do exactly as they are coached to do," he said. "We are not aggressive to the ball in the secondary and have not shown much physicality from there."
The Knights are headed into their bye week, and the coaching staff will be working on this area. Coach Robbins did credit his defense in doing a great job against the Commander running attack.
"The defensive bright spot was our effort on the run, giving up only five net yards on 24 carries," he said. "It doesn't get much better than that."
Defensively, Vincent Collins led Marion County with eight tackles, one fumble created and one sack. Enrico Floyd had seven tackles and Tyran Sickles, Lincoln Hayden and Wyatt Cecil had five tackles each. Jack Hagan had four tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery, and Cameron Brown also had a fumble recovery.
The passing game for the Knights was not effective in any way, according to Robbins. However, he did credit his offensive line with performing well and giving the running backs lanes to run in.
"We were able to amass over 300 yards on the ground," he said.
Enrico Floyd had 18 carries for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Hayden Taylor carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Anton Cowherd had six carries for 41 yards and Cameron Brown rushed for 31 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
A bright spot for the Knights has been Aldo Perez.
"Aldo did an excellent job on special teams going four of four on point after attempts and he punted four times for an average of 47.3 yards per punt, which is phenomenal," Robbins said.
This week, the Knights have a week off, which they will use to work on several things.
"We will use this off week to work on us," Robbins said. "Our main goals are offensively to work our passing game. We have been good in four of five games, but we need to be better. Defensively, we will work on tackling, and of course, secondary play. Special teams will add a few wrinkles for district play."
The Knights will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 28, when they travel to Campbellsville to take on Taylor County.
Wash. Co. (0-4): 0 14 0 7 - 21
Marion Co. (1-4): 7 7 7 7 - 28