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Down 17-7, Panthers Run Past Titans 33-17
October 8, 2008 - For the second straight week, Knightstown’s varsity football team came out flat and found itself down by double digits at halftime. But this time, the Panthers turned the tables and dominated the game over the final 24 minutes, thrashing Tri High 33-17 and ruining the Titan Homecoming.
Due to three first-half Knightstown turnovers, the Panthers found themselves trailing 17-7 at the intermission. But second half dominance – Knightstown racked up nearly 300 yards of offense after the break – turned the game around and enabled the Panthers to string together four unanswered touchdowns.
An opportunistic Titan defense took advantage of Panther turnovers in the first half, building a 10-0 lead and maintaining that margin at the break at 17-7. Their fans were rowdy, loud and sensing a huge victory in this storied rivalry. Both Tri touchdowns were scored by its defense, which picked up two Knightstown fumbles and returned them for paydirt.
The Panthers had answered with a second quarter drive for seven points, but still trailed by double digits for the second straight week at halftime. Knightstown coach Bob Prescott could be heard loudly challenging his team during the break, and after returning to the field, turned things over to his seniors, sending the team into the end zone for some quick soul searching before the second half kickoff.
At that stage of the game, mistakes had cost the team dearly. Two fumbles had resulted in both Titan touchdowns and an interception killed another drive. A 15-yard holding penalty had erased a 26-yard run by quarterback Brice Biehl to the Tri 14-yard line, ending another drive.
Those four huge mistakes had enabled the Titans to score on a 32-yard fumble returned for a touchdown by Kyle Ellis, and a 22-yard fumble returned for a score by Tyler Keeka. A.J. Stewart’s 24-yard field was sandwiched in between those two touchdowns, giving Tri that 17-7 lead, because the defense, or Knightstown’s offense, was responsible for 14 of the points.
But there would be no more of those mistakes in the second half. Knightstown set the stage right away with a drive that epitomized the way Prescott wants his team to play football.
Tri appeared briefly to still have the momentum when the second half kickoff sailed into the end zone. But all that did was launch an 80-yard, 8-play drive that was helped out considerably by the first Titan mistake of the game. Another Panther fumble was recovered by Travis Titus to stave off another turnover, and Knightstown was forced to punt on fourth down and a short five. But Tri was flagged for 12 men on the field, giving the Panthers the five-yard penalty and a first down.
Knightstown made the hosts pay for that mistake. Two plays later, Biehl pitched the option to Titus for a 33-yard gain, and Biehl later ran for 16 more yards. Sophomore fullback Lane Fields carried the pigskin in from 12 yards out and Jordan Hauk’s PAT suddenly cut the lead to 17-14.
The Titans were on their heels at that point and the Panther defense took over. Tri would convert on just one-of-eight third downs the rest of the game. Great defensive plays by Aaron Forshey and Zach Sanders forced a Titan punt, and then the momentum took a permanent swing.
Knightstown used just six plays to go 68 yards and take the lead. After Derric Singer sacked Biehl to force a 3rd-and-9, the quarterback then picked up eight yards on a run to the Tri 46. Prescott opted for a huge gamble on 4th-and-1, confident that the Titans would not be able to prevent Fields from getting one yard. The Panther offensive line got a huge push forward and opened up a gaping hole off right tackle.
Fields shot through the hole and rocketed 46-yards for the touchdown. With 4:06 remaining in the third quarter, Knightstown had seized control of the game and led 21-17.
Two more great defensive plays by Sanders and Ethan Pearson stopped Tri on a three-and-out. The message had been sent and received.
On their next possession the Panthers put together a 10-play drive that covered 62 yards and ultimately ended at the Titan four-yard line on downs. But the drive ate up nearly four minutes. When Tri got the ball back in the fourth quarter, the Panthers again stepped up and forced a three-and-out.
That set the team up at the Tri 49-yard line. They needed just eight plays to score again. Fields had runs of 7, 8 and 7 yards, while Biehl had scampers of 17 and 8 yards. Knightstown had just one third down play on the drive, and Biehl’s one-yard run made it 27-17 with 5:40 left to play. Tri turned the ball over on downs again, and the Panthers hit paydirt one more time on a 16-yard run by Biehl for the final scoring.
The game was without a doubt a tale of two halves. In the first half, Fields had carried the ball just eight times, gaining 69 yards. In the second half, Fields ran the ball l7 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the same story for Biehl, who suffered through two fumbles and an interception in the first half. His halftime rushing totals included four carries for a net of two yards. In the second two quarters, Biehl had17 carries, gained 111 yards and hit the end zone twice. Combined, Biehl and Fields had 12 carries for 71 yards in the first half, and exploded for a combined 34 carries and 253 yards in the last two quarters.
Because of the turnovers, Tri had the ball on offense for 15:57 during the first half, compared to Knightstown’s 8:03. But the table was turned over the final two quarters, when Knightstown held possession for over 16 minutes and dominated the game.
The second half thrashing was just as much a defensive mismatch as it was offensive. Over the game’s final two quarters, Tri was able to convert just one-of-eight third down plays. Knightstown, meanwhile, converted on four-of-seven third down plays. On two of those three failures, the team scored on the subsequent fourth down play.
Knightstown 0 7 14 12 - 33
Tri High 10 7 0 0 - 17
TH – Kyle Ellis 32-yard touchdown on fumble recovery (9:49), A.J. Stewart kick, 0-7.
TH – Stewart 24-yard field goal (1:19), 0-10.
KT – Brice Biehl 1-yard touchdown run (4:12), Jordan Hauk kick, 7-10.
TH – Tyler Leeka 22-yard touchdown on fumble recovery (0:14), Stewart kick, 7-17.
KT – Lane Fields 12-yard touchdown run (9:01), Hauk kick, 14-17.
KT – Fields 46-yard touchdown run (4:09), Hauk kick, 21-17.
KT – Biehl 1-yard touchdown run (5:40), kick failed, 27-17.
KT – Biehl 26-yard touchdown run (4:25), kick failed, 33-17.
Rushing: Lane Fields 25-212, 2 TDs; Brice Biehl 21-113, 3 TDs; Travis Titus 3-36; Danny Ortman 2-13; Nolan Hall 2-0.
Passing: Biehl 2-9-1, 7 yards.
Receiving: Titus 1-8, Ortman 1-(-1).
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